Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Fart jokes, sex jokes and offensive vulgarity seem to be in every second comedy these days. It’s not hard to insert this type of humour in your film, but actually making it funny is a whole other ball game. Luckily, Bad Neighbours smacks it right out of the park.
Seth Rogen stars as Mac Radner and Rose Byrne stars as his wife Kelly. They’ve recently moved into a new house and are the proud parents of a gorgeous baby girl. This little family is doing just fine, that is, until a fraternity moves in right next-door. After calling the cops on their constantly partying neighbours, the fraternity’s president Teddy Sanders, played by Zac Efron, decides that it is to be all-out war.
Seth Rogen is back with that persona that has made him a household name. His loveable-loser alter ego returns, but he’s more mature and grounded; a perfect evolution of the character we’ve seen him play a thousand times before. Yes, he still smokes that ganja, but a wife, baby and career ensure that he is cemented in a new “adult” chapter. Rose Byrne more than equals her counterpart, offering a natural performance that benefits from her natural Australian accent. Byrne is quite funny, more than willing to take part in the rude shenanigans.
As good as Rogen and Byrne are, the film just wouldn’t be the same without Zac Efron. Efron delivers a great performance here, managing to bring layers to his cocky-character while poking fun at his own good looks. Self-depreciating humour aside, Efron brings a much-needed vulnerability to the role, ensuring that you’re on both sides of this neighbourly war.
There are a few problems with the film, but nothing that affects it too much. The tone is awkwardly handled at first, with a first quarter that doesn’t quite bring the characterisation and laughs in equal doses. The film’s overall predictability also takes a toll, with almost every plot point telegraphed way too early. Overall, there’s nothing overly new here. We’ve heard this plot before and we’ve seen these characters countless times. But what the film does bring is laughs, and plenty of them.
Director Nicholas Stoller has proven that he is a comedic director that knows his stuff. His last few films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and The Five-Year Engagement, were fine comedies, and his work feels confident and assured here. He directs his actors well, ensuring that their quips are delivered with timing in mind.
The over-reliance on gross-out humour may prove to be a bit much for some tastes, but Bad Neighbours doesn’t ever cross the line. In fact, for a film of its type, the proceedings are relatively safe. The film unfolds at break-neck speed, flinging joke after joke to see what hits – most do. Occasionally, the film does suffer from a “skit” dilemma, in which certain jokes seem to be inserted based on their own merit, as opposed to fitting with the overall plot. Also, it seems that there was an awful lot cut out here, as comedies that incorporate unscripted ad-libs often do. Certain scenes suffer from a heavy-handed edit; no doubt we’ll see plenty more in an “Unrated Edition.”
All in all, Bad Neighbours is quite good. Nothing really screams originality, but there’s a contagious craziness to the overall film that just grabs you. Byrne and Efron prove that comedy is indeed in their blood in a film that aims to make you laugh, and succeeds nicely.
THE REEL SCORE: 7/10