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‘Neighbors’ stars Zac Efron and Seth Rogen form a fraternity of dude
A glance across the room at an awkward Hollywood awards show party first united Zac Efron and Seth Rogen.
“It was kind of a longing look,” Rogen said, recalling their first conversation.
“You can’t come out and say it, but I was like, ‘Dude, I’d … die to work with you,'” Efron said. “I was kind of imploring him. As a dude growing up in today’s world, Seth is someone who I always really related to.”
At 32, Rogen has built his career as an actor, writer and producer around an amiable slacker persona in such comedies as “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express.” At 26, Efron built his as a heartthrob in the Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” movies and in “Hairspray” and “17 Again.”
In real life, these two young actors are also facing different stages of life: Efron, the buff, fresh-faced one, is recently out of rehab and trying to establish a career as an adult while Rogen, the R-rated comedy king and notorious pothead, is a busy, married producer of his own films.
Now (mostly) grown up and quite successful in their own ways, the two serve as each other’s foils in “Neighbors,” an “Animal House”-style comedy in which Rogen plays Mac, a sleep-deprived new dad forced to confront his changing lifestyle when Efron’s Teddy and his hard-partying fraternity move next door.
Sorry, Spidey. A raunchy fraternity just threw a bong through your web. The No. 1 movie in the United States and Canada over the weekend was “Neighbors,” an R-rated comedy that rode strong reviews and a well-oiled marketing campaign to an astounding $51.1 million in ticket sales, trampling “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
“Neighbors” (Universal Pictures), which cost just $18 million to make and had been expected take in roughly $35 million, likely benefited from pent-up demand for crude laughs. The major studios have not released an original R-rated comedy since last August. Starring Seth Rogan, Rose Byrne and Zac Effron and recalling the 1980s-era “Revenge of the Nerds” movies, “Neighbors” also exploited what has been an overlooked corner of studio filmmaking in recent years: the fraternity picture.
“Spider-Man” (Sony) fell a steep 59 percent in its second weekend, taking in an estimated $37.2 million, for a two-week domestic total of $147.9 million — by far the lowest 14-day North American total in the webslinger’s five-film history. The superhero has also typically repeated as No. 1 in its second weekend. “Spider-Man,” which cost at least $250 million to make, not including marketing, has now taken in about $550 million worldwide, a total Sony described as “exceeding our goals.” Third place went to “The Other Woman” (20th Century Fox), which generated $9.3 million in ticket sales, for a three-week total of $61.7 million.
Also of note: “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” (Clarius Entertainment), a poorly reviewed animated musical that cost a reported $70 million to make, bombed badly, taking in $3.7 million
The years since “High School Musical” have been hard on the former child star, replete with hits (“Hairspray”), misses (“Charlie St. Cloud”) and substance abuse. Now, with “Neighbors,” he’s working on his life as an adult: “I needed to learn everything I did.”
Zac Efron leans back, lost in thought.
“No matter who you are, you face challenges growing up,” he says. “You go with your things, you learn, you have to. It’s impossible to lead an honest and fulfilling life as a man and not make mistakes and ‘fess up to them when you need to. But it’s especially humiliating when they happen to be so public and so scrutinized.”
He pauses. “When you have success young, and you accept the good things, you have to accept all of it. You have to accept the moments of glory but also a great responsibility. And that responsibility, to some degree, involves being a role model. At the same time, I’m a human being, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve learned from each one.”