SETH ROGEN (This Is the End, 50/50), ZAC EFRON (The Lucky One, That Awkward Moment) and ROSE BYRNE (Bridesmaids, Insidious series) join forces with director NICHOLAS STOLLER (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) for Neighbors, a comedy about a young couple suffering from arrested development who are forced to live next to a fraternity house after the birth of their newborn baby. By all appearances, new parents Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne) are living the American Dream, one complete with an adorable little girl and a beautiful new starter home in the suburbs. Still, the early-thirtysomethings want to believe that they have a modicum of coolness left within them.
This next phase of life is proving to be a challenge, as the reformed (sometime?) partyers struggle with the realities of entering an inevitable new stage: unapologetic adulthood.
Neighbors includes a comedic supporting cast led by DAVE FRANCO (21 Jump Street, Now You See Me) as Pete, Delta Psi’s charming vice president; CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE (This Is the End, Role Models) as Scoonie, the most freakishly endowed of the brothers; JERROD CARMICHAEL (television’s The Goodwin Games, upcoming Untitled Jerrod Carmichael Project) as the easily confused Garf; and CRAIG ROBERTS (Submarine, Jane Eyre) as the disturbingly nicknamed Assjuice.
On the “adult” side of the fence are IKE BARINHOLTZ (TV’s The Mindy Project and The League) as Jimmy, Mac’s immature best friend and co-worker who is pining for the spouse from whom he’s divorced; CARLA GALLO (Superbad, TV’s Bones) as Paula, Jimmy’s wild-partying ex-wife who longs for the time when Mac and Kelly were the hip couple that she met; and LISA KUDROW (TV’s Scandal, Easy A) as Dr. Carol Gladstone, the dean of the local university who is at her wit’s end with the one-more-strike-and-you’re-out frat.ass
Working from an original screenplay by first-time screenwriters ANDREW JAY COHEN and BRENDAN O’BRIEN, who also serve as executive producers, Stoller directs the comedy produced by Rogen, as well as Rogen’s longtime producing partner, EVAN GOLDBERG (Superbad, This Is the End), and JAMES WEAVER (The Guilt Trip, This Is the End).
For Neighbors, the filmmakers have assembled an accomplished behind-the-scenes team led by cinematographer BRANDON TROST (This Is the End, That Awkward Moment), production designer JULIE BERGHOFF (The Kids Are All Right, The Conjuring), editor ZENE BAKER (This Is the End, 50/50), costume designer LEESA EVANS (Bridesmaids, This Is 40) and composer MICHAEL ANDREWS (The Heat, upcoming Tammy). NATHAN KAHANE (This Is the End), JOE DRAKE (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and BRIAN BELL (upcoming 22 Jump Street) serve alongside Cohen and O’Brien as executive producers of the comedy.
Curse of Adulthood: Neighbors Begins Production
Neighbors was inspired by writers Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen’s admitted fear of adulthood as they transitioned from their twenties into their thirties. While they knew that this was the time in their lives when the urge to settle down should take root, the pair was reluctant to embrace adulthood and all its concomitant responsibilities. Recalls O’Brien: “Andrew and I were in our thirties and had both gotten married. I had my first child, and we both found ourselves struggling with the fact that we didn’t feel like kids anymore but certainly didn’t feel like responsible adults either.”
After hearing a story about college students at a Northeastern university wreaking havoc on the community, O’Brien and Cohen thought the scenario would serve as a humorous backdrop to explore this divide. “We learned about how the locals have to deal with things like college kids peeing in their bushes, stealing stop signs and causing accidents, and how these are normal people just trying to live their lives,” says Cohen. “These are regular people who have families and want their kids to live in a safe environment but have these college kids at odds with them. This got us excited because we love intergenerational stories, and there was something funny about the fact that 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds feel that they are in totally different generations.”
The duo wrote the part of harried father Mac Radner with actor and comedian Seth Rogen in mind—a role that they knew would play against audiences’ experience of Rogen as a hard partyer in films such as Pineapple Express and Knocked Up. Continues O’Brien: “Contrary to how Seth may be perceived, he’s a very responsible and hard-working guy and is much more mature than most people think. He is now married and heading into his thirties and is closer to the other side of the fence as the older guy who’s telling the kids to keep it down. We wanted to play around with that.”
O’Brien and Cohen, longtime friends and collaborators of Rogen, pitched the idea to Rogen and his producing partner, Evan Goldberg, to make under their banner Point Grey Pictures, a company led by Neighbors’ other producer, James Weaver. The filmmakers were immediately sold on the high-concept premise. Recalls Rogen: “It was instantly a funny idea. Some pitches seem crazy when you first hear them, and this just seemed funny in a straightforward way.” He pauses. “Almost too normal for us.” “Andrew and Brendan came up with one of those ideas that just can’t fail,” Goldberg concurs. “No matter who directs it, who produces it or who’s in it, a movie about a couple with a baby and a frat that moves next door is a home run.”
Weaver, who most recently worked with Rogen and Goldberg on the comedy blockbuster This Is the End, adds: “We thought audiences could relate to this unique place in life when people are wondering if it’s all over, if there’s no more fun to be had and if you can still touch that place where you used to have a balls-out crazy good time.” With the producers committed to the project, the writing team began fleshing out the various characters and fine-tuning story lines.
Although O’Brien and Cohen initially centered their story upon a guy and his group of friends who were warring with a neighboring fraternity, they evolved their protagonists into newlyweds with a baby who were struggling with their new phase of life. “Mac and Kelly are the first of their friends to have bought a house and have a baby and don’t have a large frame of reference for how the whole adulthood thing works,” explains Rogen. “You see early on that they’re struggling with the fact that they can’t go out and party anymore with their friends and keep asking themselves when things will get back to normal. They haven’t quite come to grips with the fact that once you have a baby, that doesn’t happen again.” Rogen felt that the Radners’ trials and tribulations would not only be comedic, but that they would be identifiable to many. “They are a couple with a new baby who are struggling to maintain their youth, so when the frat moves next door they think that it might be cool and that maybe they can have it all: be responsible parents and drop in next door to dance and hang out,” he adds. “They quickly realize that it’s an impossible situation, and when they call the cops, it draws a line in the sand and hell breaks loose.”