Bad Neighbours Review
Simply titled Neighbors in the US (conjuring up memories of Harold Bishop and Scott & Charlene), the film sees married couple Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) – and their baby – get new neighbours in the shape of a frat house led by Teddy (Zac Efron).
They go to war and a game of one-upmanship ensues, with the couple going to great lengths to get rid of their noisy neighbours.
Verdict: It’s a simple premise – a battle between a family and a large group of frat guys, one that is ripe for lots of comedic material, so long as it has a sharp script and decent performances.
Seth Rogen is essentially playing the same character he has played in many movies now – the stoner man-child – a role which some people may have – understandably – tired of. In Bad Neighbours, he teamed up with Rose Byrne, an excellent comedy actress, and she really steals the show in their scenes as the stay-at-home mother who’s going stir-crazy.
As for the frat boys – Zac Efron may be pushing credibility slightly as somebody still at college, but that’s nothing new and is soon forgotten as he turns in a brilliant performance – he really is the ace in the pack here. He is unbelievably ripped, very cocky and on paper the villain of the film, but he brings likeability and some nuances to his character giving it far more depth and believability than you might expect. He’s shown his comedy timing before in 17 Again, and to a lesser extent That Awkward Moment, but this is a far better film and performance than both of those.
As well as Efron there’s a supporting group which includes second-in-command Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Craig Roberts. Mintz-Plasse is the focus of some of the more gross-out material, and some of these moments almost cheapen the film, but the script does keep the jokes coming so if these aren’t for you, there’s still another funny line just around the corner.
Craig Roberts – most well known up until this point for the excellent Submarine – is great as the freshman keen to impress, and, as Mintz-Plasse will forever be called McLovin, Roberts may get called ‘Assjuice’ on the street from now on.
Fraternity houses probably resonate more with an American audience, but the non-US audience will be aware of them enough through films such as Animal House and Monsters University so the jokes shouldn’t go over anyone’s heads. It’s clearly influenced by the former, but this is no bad thing at all. It may not quite reach these heights – what does? – but it comes close enough.
The script itself is very good. There are funny pop-culture references ranging from Breaking Bad to Kevin James movies, and a particularly good nod to the generation gap between Efron and Rogen when talking about ‘their Batman’ – sharing Michael Keaton and Christian Bale impressions. A party scene also features a spot-on Meet the Parents Robert De Niro impression from Franco.
As mentioned, there are lots of stoner and gross-out moments that aren’t to everybody’s taste and I think the film would have done better to avoid that, though in its defence I expect a lot of frat guys in college would dabble in drugs and make penis jokes, so I’m willing to cut the film a little slack. It does have some heart too, behind these jokes there’s a film about responsibility and accepting a quieter life, but one which can still be fun.
Final Words: It may fall down the trap of weed and penis-jokes, but this is a film full of funny moments from start to finish. There are enough hits to make audiences forget about the misses, and the funny moments come fast enough that the film will fly by.
Zac Efron steals the show, but both he and Rose Byrne are excellent in this, with Rogen doing what he does in near enough every film he’s in. A solid comedy.