Bad Neighbours review

Review Seb Patrick 1 May 2014 - 06:45

Seth Rogen faces off against Zac Efron in this neighbourly comedy. Here's Seb's review...

If you happen to have been born in the same year as Seth Rogen, as this correspondent was, then it’s somewhat disconcerting to see him cast on the older side in a generational-gap comedy. This can’t be right, surely? Rogen shouldn’t be the family man getting annoyed at all these youngsters making noise and causing chaos: he should be the youngster making noise and causing chaos, dammit!

As it happens, this exact question is at the very centre of Bad Neighbours (renamed over here from its US title Neighbors, for obvious Australian-soap-confusion-avoidance reasons) – as it is, in part, a surprisingly canny exploration of what happens to the generation that simply refuses to grow up when real life does actually start to catch up with it. Rogen and screen wife Rose Byrne are torn between wanting to be responsible, grown-up parents to their newborn daughter, and still wanting to kick back and have the sort of good time that their new frat-house neighbours are living twenty-four seven.

Indeed, putting the type of character Rogen excels at – and Bad Neighbours' Mac might as well have "Archetype" as his middle name – into this type of story actually makes the conflict between the two sets of neighbours more interesting than if their natural inclination was to be opposed. In fact, when the boys move in next door, Mac and Kelly are more keen to be seen as "cool" by the youngsters than they are worried by the possibility of noise and disruption. Their actions in the early part of the film are actually key to ensuring that sympathies aren't wholly with them as the conflict unfolds: in truth, there's plenty that they actually bring on themselves.

For all of that, Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien's first feature script, in the reasonably safe hands of Nicholas Forgetting Sarah Marshall Stoller, isn't entirely sure-footed – it goes for easy gross-out jokes a few times too often, and undersells the majority of a strong supporting cast (Chris Mintz-Plasse and Submarine's Craig Roberts are somewhat wasted, although there's an excellent couple-of-scenes cameo from Lisa Kudrow, making you wonder why she doesn't get more of this kind of stuff these days). The plot, too, is perhaps just a little too heavy on contrivances, especially as the conflict between the two sides escalates into increasing ludicrousness.

But it does deliver laughs with a pretty solid regularity (including one absolutely sublime moment of slapstick that you simply won't see coming), and its greatest strength is perhaps its most surprising: that is, the chemistry between Rogen and Zac Efron. All of a sudden, Channing Tatum has a bit of competition in the "rock hard abs allied to surprisingly strong comedic chops" stakes, and in Efron it comes from the unlikeliest of sources. He's playing a difficult character – he is, essentially, the "villain" – but still manages to find a way into the audience's sympathy.

Indeed, the only downside of the fact that the film's plot places Rogen and Efron in opposition is that they're so much more fun as a buddy duo in the earlier stages – with a The Trip-esque face-off of cross-generational Batman impersonations a particular highlight. It's the sort of thing that means that what could have come off as little more than a needly and slightly cynical gross-out comedy actually – in line with Stoller's previous work – has more charm than expected, and it wouldn't be such a bad thing if these two got to actually be friends for an entire movie in future. Good Neighbours sequel, perhaps?

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I agree. with most of what you said except for the scoring. I went to a private screening last night for the film, it was just a little over the top for me.

Damn, what a great birthdate. A king amongst geeks! :-)

I'm really looking forward to seeing this actually (1978 kid here :p )

Great year for movies incidentally.

Superman
Grease (if you like that sort of thing)
Halloween
The Deer Hunter
Animal House
Dawn of the Dead
Midnight Express
etc.

Thanks - of course, the show was into reruns by the time I was old enough to appreciate them :-)

"unsubscribe"

"Deciduity"

(Sorry, is it Random Words Friday again?)

I have seen it. It's a lot funnier to me than I thought it would be at first. When it comes out on DVD/BluRay, rent it, you'll enjoy it...

The 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating suggests otherwise.

I found this movie offensive to the extreme, from the 1st scene where the parents (Seth & Rose) are having sex in front of their baby, it went downhill from there & did not get better. The cinema audience must have agreed, as there were very few laughs. I do not enjoy babies being used for cheap laughs (the credits show the baby in a photo shoot done by her parents, in various poses including crystal meth maker and pot dealer-obscene & sick imo!) Sad, sad, sad!!!

I found this movie offensive to the extreme, from the 1st scene where the parents (Seth & Rose) are having sex in front of their baby, it went downhill from there & did not get better. The cinema audience must have agreed, as there were very few laughs. I do not enjoy babies being used for cheap laughs (the credits show the baby in a photo shoot done by her parents, in various poses including crystal meth maker and pot dealer-obscene & sick imo!) Sad, sad, sad!!!

Thought it was hilarious. Pretty much everything Seth Rogen does makes me laugh, and I have a lot of time for Zac Efron. Cutest baby I've ever seen, too.

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