‘Neighbors’ topped the box office because it cracked the formula for funny

Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the goofballs of neighbors. (Universal Pictures)
From left, Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the goofballs of “Neighbors.” (Universal Pictures)

“Neighbors” won the box office last weekend and is the frontrunner for summer’s biggest comedy. Starring Seth Rogen, above left, and Rose Byrne as new parents feuding with Zac Efron’s, above right, frat house next door, “Neighbors” is raunchy and reliably funny. You can almost see director Nicholas Stoller ticking items off the checklist for mainstream comedy success:

A Proven Lead: Rogen, in the latest iteration of his schlubby but affable stoner type. Now he’s a dad, making this a spiritual successor to “Knocked Up.”

Unexpected Cameos: The “Workaholics” guys play beer pong, Lisa Kudrow shows up as a college dean hoping to avoid a scandal and “New Girl’s” Jake Johnson pukes into a boot.

Get Gross: There are scenes involving dildos and breast pumps that more than earn the film’s R rating.

Say Something About Growing Up: “Neighbors” flirts with the real anxieties that come with graduating college or becoming a parent.

Cast a Franco: Dave Franco, bro of James, plays Efron’s best bro (and outcharms both).

Have Zac Efron Stand Around Shirtless: OK, maybe this one is “Neighbors”-specific, but it is scientifically proven to increase ticket sales.

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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