AUSTIN — To premiere at SXSW, Universal’s “Neighbors” decided to forgo the end credits, a final mix, and the aspect ratio correction, but the sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theater didn’t seem to mind. The Seth Rogen-produced raunchy comedy starring Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco and an often-shirtless Rogen debuted to an audience content to heartily laugh.
While the weather outside was both frightful and wet, inside Rogen half joked that the only person out of the near dozen onstage that attended college was producer James Weaver, who also doubled as the sole member of a fraternity.
The film follows the Radnor family (Rogen and Byrne), who, after having their first child experience the unfortunate circumstance of having a fraternity move in next door (its president is played by Efron). In an attempt to both give their daughter a peaceful environment and yet prove to themselves that they are still cool and hip, the duo walk a fine line, both partying with and calling the cops on the frat. Things inevitably escalate into a frat-versus-new parent war.
Director Nicholas Stoller deadpanned to the SXSW crowd that he used Gaspar Noe’s “Enter the Void” as visual inspiration (“but just a visual touchstone, not for anything else,” he said) and the audience heartily clapped when Rogen said he drew his inspiration for a series of car airbag pranks from hours of YouTube videos.
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“There is a zero percent survival rate and we thought it was so funny we put it in the movie 17 times, but don’t do it to your friends,” Rogen warned the audience.
After the film, “Neighbors” branded buses navigated through the rain to the “frat house,” a small space on the outskirts of downtown Austin that mixed ping pong balls, beer cozies and mud with live performances and brisket or soy tacos.
“We will take it back to college tonight,” Efron told the crowd prior to the party, however this reporter was unable to find the former Disney child star in the after party crowd.