neighbors-posterNicholas Stoller’s Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, finds a perfect mix of raunchiness, humor and genuine emotion. Written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, the film features Rogen and Rose Byrne as first-time parents who are living the dream with their baby daughter when a rowdy fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, moves in next door. Rogen and Byrne try to make friends with the guys but the wild frat-boy antics eventually get to the couple and the two houses are soon involved in an all-out war. This is one of the raunchiest and funniest comedies I’ve seen in a long time and features a talented ensemble cast including Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo as the couple’s best friends, Lisa Kudrow as the dean of the frat boys’ college and a bunch of wild fraternity brothers including Christopher Mintz-Plasse and stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael in his film debut. I talked to Carmichael on the eve of taping his upcoming HBO comedy special that is being directed by Spike Lee.

Danny Miller: You are so funny in this movie. You know, our house was going to be used for the fraternity house in the film but at the last minute they decided to go with a different house a few blocks away.

Jerrod Carmichael: Oh man, are you kidding me? We would have destroyed your property! Seriously, Danny, we would have damaged everything in your house, you should count your blessings.

That would have been just fine since I’m sure Universal would have paid for any damage.

That’s true. Along with the short rib rigatoni I was ordering every night at two in the morning! It’s weird — I was just thinking the other day about houses that are used in movies and on TV shows. That has to be a nightmare for the homeowners, especially if it’s something recognizable. I was thinking of that house in Miami that was used for the exterior shots in The Golden Girls. People still drive by that house every day taking pictures. They’d get upset if you did any construction on the house!


There are so many insanely funny scenes in this film. How close is the final movie to the original script that you read?

Oh, a lot of that changed! The writers basically wrote a new script while sitting in chairs on the set. There were so many things that came up during the shoot that they tailored to the actors and to what was happening in the moment, so much of the film was written on the fly. The writers were pretty amazing at doing that, they were super quick. It worked out great.

I so love the scenes between you and the cop played by comic Hannibal Buress. I assume most of that was not in the original script?

No, there was maybe a page or two, but we ended up shooting that for something like eight hours! I think there’s enough footage there for a short film.

You two had a great rapport.

It’s like the movie Locke with Tom Hardy if Locke got pulled over by the police! That’s what me and Hannibal were going for.

You may need to make a separate film featuring those two characters.

Should I make the call to Universal or should you?

I’ll do it. After appearing in a lot of TV, how different was it for you to be on a movie set?

Parts of it are very similar but the content was really different. We had a lot more freedom. Things are said in this film that I don’t think we’d even be allowed to say in the privacy of our own homes. I loved it!

I know. Even with an R rating, I was stunned with what you guys were able to get away with.

It’s true. You’d think by now with the Internet we’d all be used to the worst possible shit you can imagine people saying or doing but some of those scenes between Seth and Rose can still make me blush! Man, they really went for it!


You’re one of the pledges at the frat who suffers a lot of abuse at the hands of Zac Efron and Dave Franco. Were you ever asked to do anything in the film that you just didn’t want to do?

Listen, once you’re in a room and Zac Efron is pulling the mold for a dildo away from your body, am I really going to start drawing lines in the sand?

What I love about the crazy humor in this film is how it takes the audience right to the edge but then it knows when to pull back. Like when Seth was poking his baby’s crib to see if you guys had put one of his stolen air bags there. As a parent of a young child, I was like, “Uh-uh, if they do that, I’m done with this film and those idiot frat boys should go to jail!” 

Exactly. Too much. I think our director and writers were really smart about that stuff. And that moment said a lot of unspoken things about the fraternity. Sure, we were crazy, but we weren’t going to fuck with a baby — we loved that baby! But, as you say, we were always going right to the edge.

Do you worry about any of your family members seeing this film? Will you be hiding behind your hands during some of those scenes?

Listen, with what they’ve already heard me say on stage, nothing can phase them anymore!


Speaking of which, congratulations on the HBO/Funny or Die special you’re about to tape. How did Spike Lee get involved with that?

I think those kinds of specials can be just something you do because you can, but I don’t look at stand-up that way — I want to treat it as a piece of art. To be honest, I think stand-up is one of the purest art forms in the world, and for me, Spike Lee adds to that narrative. Not just because of his style and presence, but because he gets it, too, and hopefully he will help people realize that these are curated thoughts. I’m very thankful that Spike Lee is involved and that he’s excited to be a part of it.