Bad Neighbours (or just plan old Neighbours in the US of A) is the latest film to star Seth Rogen, a man who in the last few years has risen to the top of the Hollywood food chain. However, this is Rogen with a difference. Rather than the slacker stoner, he is now the married, working man with a kid stoner. It’s a change that… Well to be perfectly honest it makes very little difference to the character he plays, except every now and then he looks a bit guilty before he grabs the drugs.
The central premise of the film is simple. Mac Radner (Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) are settling into their suburban lives with their new baby daughter when a fraternity moves in next door. The couple quickly realise that small children and loud drunken parties are not a good combination and attempt to speak to fraternity leaders Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) about keeping the noise down. They promise that they will attempt to do so, with the caveat that if the couple have any complaints they should come to them and in no circumstances call the police. Unsurprisingly, this promise isn’t kept long and one phone call quickly escalates into a full blown conflict between the two parties.
The biggest issue with this is that you are not entirely sure who to cheer for. On one hand it seems obvious. The young couple desperate to live a normal life with their baby daughter take precedence over drunk students pretty much every day of the week. However, Mac and Kelly quickly become quite hard to sympathise with. They appear to resent their new life, to the extent that they are quite happy to leave their daughter alone over night, in order to take lots of drugs and party with the fraternity. While there is a recurring gag about them having to check the baby monitor, this kind of behaviour makes them a hard couple to love.
In saying all that you will laugh at this film. There are plenty of funny moments. However, I’m genuinely struggling to think of them now, which basically sums it up. This is the kind of film that fills an evening but will make no impression beyond that. It also doesn’t help that the funniest moment in the film, a sight gag involving an air-bag, has been ruined by the trailers. Rogen and Efron have enough chemistry to insure this is still worth a laugh or two however and as Helen O’Hara said on the Empire Podcast, check it out here if you are interested, you can’t help but feeling there is a much better film involving a bromance between those two men. Elsewhere, Rose Byrne is horribly underused and Dave Franco puts in a perfectly acceptable performance as the more intelligent frat boy Pete.
Bad Neighbours is a very difficult film to get enthused about, even if I did enjoy it at the time. This kind of movie has become the likes of Rogen’s bread and butter and there is absolutely nothing exciting about it. The improvisational comedy that it is based around works occasionally, but too often see’s them wandering off into unfunny territory that eventually ends with everyone just shouting at each other. All these issues lead to a movie that will be enjoyable enough in front of the TV with a couple of beers, but which you should feel no need to actually search out and discover yourself.