Bad Neighbours Review

Bad Neighbours

With the odd exception, the enjoyment of any Seth Rogen movie is largely predicated on whether or not you are a Seth Rogen fan.

He is, after all, not the type of actor that disappears into a character. Rather, he becomes a Seth Rogen-version of the character he is playing.

Fortunately, for me and his new film Bad Neighbours, I happen to be a Seth Rogen fan.

Rogen plays Mac Radner, a man slightly daunted by the dawning responsibilities of parenthood, but blissfully happy with his new-born daughter and wife Kelly.

And when she looks like Rose Byrne, you can understand why.

A college fraternity then takes up residence next door and, if the title doesn’t give it away, this does not bode well.

The fraternity in question, Delta Psi, is led by the charismatic Zac Efron shaped Teddy and Pete, played by Dave ‘brother of James’ Franco.

Initially, both Delta Psi and the Radners’ realise the benefits of mutual cooperation, which is the cue for some awkward bonding gestures and middle-aged partying.

Before long though, the incessant booze fests next-door get too much for Mac and Kelly, and a turf war more trans-generational than territorial eventually erupts.

The Radners recruit bickering ex-couple Jimmy and Paula to their cause, whilst Delta Psi are bolstered by an army of college slackers including Garf (Jerrod Carmichael) and Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, curiously reduced to a one-joke supporting character).

Nicolas Stoller of Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame is at the helm along with two other writers from the Judd Apatow stable, and they ensure there’s a faint undercurrent of poignancy to all the lowbrow stuff.

And lowbrow is certainly the order of the day, in a film where one of the characters is named Assjuice.

But the film at least attempts to say something about both the youngster’s fear of future responsibility and the old folks longing for their carefree past, culminating albeit unconvincingly in the latter’s contentment with their current lot.

Primarily though, Bad Neighbours is a comedy, and a pretty funny one at that.

Okay, some gags don’t work or even belong, but these are easily forgiven for all the more memorable moments, including a stoned discussion about the best Batman performances to date and an airbag joke that might be physically impossible not to laugh at.

Plus, the inevitable climactic fight scene between Teddy and Mac is a triumph of comic choreography.

If the film does have a downside, it is the sometimes uneven balance between subgenres, swaying between 21 And Over college humour and This Is 40 grown-up comedy.

As a result, the film struggles a little in finding its feet, taking too long to invest you in Rogen and Byrne’s charming double act, before plunging you into the Animal House antics of their neighbours.

The generational jump is therefore a little jarring. But once the sides start playing off each other, the film nicely finds its groove.

Fair warning though, if you’re not a fan of Rogen, or of the lowbrow adlibbing style of Stoller’s films, this one is not a game changer.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2014