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
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."
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