Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Lisa Kudrow
The eternal cycle of ambitious teen comedies has come around again this year, this time with Seth Rogan and Zac Efron filling in as the two opposing leads. Director Nicholas Stoller and writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien are known for their average and boisterous comedy dramas such as Yes Manand The 40-Year-Old Virgin,and Bad Neighbours certainly falls into those categories of generic, hit-and-miss movies.
Rogan stars as office worker and occasional pothead Mac Radner, who’s settling into a perfectly satisfactory but happy life with his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) and their newborn baby daughter. Their quiet, suburban life is soon disturbed, however, by a bunch of loud frat-boys – led by charming jock Teddy Sanders (Efron) – who move in next door to set up the best end-of-year party tradition that will earn their place in the fraternity Hall of Fame.
The Radner’s try to nip the problem in the bud early on by reverting to their former high school party-going selves to earn respect from the new young residents and therefore some occasional peace and quiet, but a clear friction between the two houses soon erupts into a no-holds-barred war where misplaced airbags, water damage, and 3D printed dildos are at the core of indecent, gross-out gags.
Bad Neighbours is undoubtedly one of the funniest comedies churned out by the vulgar side of mainstream cinema in recent years. It achieves belly laughs from the most serious of audiences, with original quips, imaginative pranks and genuinely very impressive acting by its main cast, which for a comedy is always a demanding ask.
However, just as its characters fail to earn their spot in the fraternity’s history books, the film falters enough throughout to ensure it is just another forgettable frat boy movie, which falls slightly short of classic comedy status. The toilet humour seems targeted towards an audience younger than its age certificate, and as much as the film tries to make an original attempt at an otherwise stale genre, there’s constantly something very American Pie-esque lingering with each offensive remark and every indecent stunt. Once aware of its perhaps unintentional nods towards such timeless comedies, it is hard to forgive Bad Neighbours for every joke that falls flat and is not as properly executed as a film of its nature could be.
After a while, the comedy unfortunately dries up and you end up watching the same jokes performed twice as crude in a failed attempt to try and win back its audience. The relatively short 90-minute running time still feels too long, and what started off as a potentially flawlessly funny hour and a half, ends with a satisfied but still slightly disappointing experience. Nevertheless, the film is not at all without its merits, it’s just a shame that a film that could have breathed new life back into a bland genre choked on its own overused humour with many minutes left to spare.