The "hard R" comedy is a rare beast. Studios went through a phase where ribald comedies were watered down so executives could chase the more lucrative PG-13 audience. In the process, they neutered once edgy comedians like Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams, to name two. The Hangover helped change things, however, illustrating to studio heads that mature audiences would show up to support foul-mouthed comedies so long as they were funny. And Neighbors -- Hollywood’s latest proud-to-be-rated-R comedy – is damn funny.
Dave Franco helps ensure that Neighbors earns big laughs. The younger sibling of Oscar-nominated actor-director James Franco, Dave has been carving out his own niche in movies like 21 Jump Street (and its sequel), Warm Bodies and Now You See Me. In Neighbors, he plays Pete, partner-in-crime to head fraternity boss Teddy (Zac Efron), and the perpetual thorn in the sides of suburban parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne).
Neighbors is a scripted comedy. Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien receive screenwriting credit, though Franco’s candid when he tells me that a lot of their lines are improvised in the moment.
"We’re trying 100 jokes for each scene," Franco told me during a recent interview on behalf of Neighbors, which opens in theaters on Friday. "I don’t remember half of the stuff that we did, to be honest. It’s always interesting, when there is a film that has so much exploration while you’re filming, to see the finished cut and to see which joke they finally landed on. … And with a movie like this, you’re almost disappointed by which joke they go with because you know how many jokes you attempted to do. Obviously, you can’t put all of the jokes in there. You have to choose one!"
Was there a joke he remembers trying that he really wishes they kept in?
"There is," he tells me. "There’s a joke where – I’m still not sure if I ever said it out loud or if I was just thinking it. But during the montage where we’re getting back at Seth and Rose, and we cut their bush into the shape of a guy bending over, I wanted to say the line, ‘I’m sorry. I went down on a hippie chick last night, and was inspired to trim bush.’ I wish that was in there."
Needless to say, it didn’t make the cut.
Dave Franco didn’t stop there. Click on to find out the one Neighbors joke he really wishes wasn’t included in the film’s marketing campaign.