Bad Neighbours (titled Neighbors everywhere else in the world, except here in case we silly UK living folk think there’s an Erinsborough movie in cinemas) has Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s new parents, Mac and Kelly, dealing with a disruptive fraternity, led by Teddy (Zac Efron), that moves in next door, shattering their perfect suburban lives and chronicles the escalating schemes and ploys as one household tries to get rid of the other.
In truth there isn’t much more to the plot than watching the plans the couple, and also the frat, carry out on each other, whether it’s the airbag scene that was plastered all over the trailers – still funny – or watching Rogen and Efron having a dance off with each other, they are all nothing less than hilarious, even if they are riffing on every college comedy ever made. I’ll not spoil any more of the movie’s big moments but several of them are proper gut-busters. The connecting strands of the movie are your basic point A to B plotting but you’ll be laughing too much to notice.
That said, your opinion of this movie will (like last year’s This Is The End, from which stable this movie also comes) depend on your tolerance for the antics of Seth Rogen et al. If you’re generally a fan of his, you’ll likely get a kick out of the movie. He once again plays that likeable oaf character, who gets by on his charm and sense of humour and also has the capacity to deliver an awesome (and usually profane) freakout. Rose Byrne is equally excellent and certainly game to give as good as the boys in the film do, and refreshingly gets more to do than the female role normally does in Apatow-style comedies, being just as much an active participant in the schemes as Rogen is. And Zac Efron continues to leave his Disney days behind him with a role that requires him to be utterly despicable, yet still managing to retain your sympathy.
And the relationships between the three of them, although nothing original, feel genuine. A lot of the laughs come from the fact that as new parents Mac and Kelly worry that they’re no longer cool, and Teddy, although he’s all bravado, has nothing more in his life than being the leader of the fraternity. They’re standard archtypes, but are enough to hang the comedy set pieces on, and to provide a bare minimum of character beyond the hijinks. Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz Passe provide solid, if underwritten support, as Efron frat bros, while Lisa Kudrow shows up in a thankless role as college Dean.
Directed with a real verve for capturing the insanity of college parties (although sadly, I’ve never been to one quite a raucous as the ones in the movie myself) as well as showing a knack for slapstick as, director Nicholas Stoller, did in his debut Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it simultaneously feels like a college movie and a suburban comedy which contains laughs tailored to everyone, young (the fraternity) and the “old” (the married parents, although I’m loathe to put myself in the ‘old’ category.
But as with any comedy, the only real question to be answered is ‘will it make me laugh?’ The answer is “Yes. A lot.”
It’s not a classic by any means, but if you’re after some top laughs and have got 90 minutes, it’s the funniest film so far this year.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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