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Review: Bad Neighbours, aka Neighbors (2014) — Rogen/Byrne vs. Efron Pledge Their Comedy Chops

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From director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), Bad Neighbours features Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and Rose Byrne (Insidious) as new parents Mac and Kelly Radner; a couple teetering on the brink of full-fledged adulthood, but having a hard time letting go of their youth. Enter a fraternity led by Zac Efron (17 Again) and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street), who move into the house next door. When attempts to initially bond with the frat fail and the inevitable late-night partying commences, Mac and Kelly find themselves in a desperate turf war where they fight for their right to not party.

As we know by now, Rogen is an actor that finds it hard to stretch from his normal shtick of lazy, stoner, slob-guy. The good news is that — at this stage, at least — Rogen has yet to wear out his welcome as he continues to place his characters in interesting situations surrounded by talented, funny co-stars. The premise of Bad Neighbours is a simple Hatfield/McCoy-like premise of two warring parties, which is broad enough to simply place hilarious people into the situation and let funny things happen.

Complementing Rogen perfectly is Byrne, cavorting around in her native Australian tongue so as to easily adapt to Rogen and Stoller’s fast-paced improvisational style. Although she showed decent comedic skill in films such as Bridesmaids, she totally shines and steals most scenes she’s involved in. The best part is that she isn’t relegated to the standard female-afterthought role and her character’s marriage to Rogen leads to a genuine team, as strong as in any buddy cop or bromance movie.

The strongest feature of the film is the extended cast, which consists of extremely funny people who — until now — have not been given a major spotlight on the big screen. Some of the great performances include Ike Barinholtz  as Rogen’s best friend, Jerrod Carmichael as a fraternity member, and Hannibal Buress as a dim-witted cop. Barinholtz in particular stands out in his scenes together with Rogen.

There are also a slew of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos — mostly during a fraternity flashback scene — which were quite impressive.

Bad Neighbours Zac Efron

Attention men: Use this to please your ladies.

Someone who is getting a lot of attention for his role in this film is Zac Efron, playing the alpha-douche fraternity president. Although I commend him for playing against type, I just didn’t find him all that captivating, and I was more impressed with Dave Franco’s vice-president character. Intended or not, I thought Franco did a great job with the dramatic heavy-lifting, while Efron did a fine job as eye-candy.

One major disappointment is Christopher Mintz-Plasse, playing a one-note fraternity member, and I swear he only has half a dozen lines in the whole film. This is a huge waste considering the roles he has been featured in since breaking out in Superbad. A missed opportunity.

This film has seen a name change for Australian and UK audiences, from Neighbors to Bad Neighbours. I would guess that this is to avoid confusion with the long-running Aussie soap-opera Neighbours, although I can’t possibly see how anyone would mistake the two. Rose Byrne’s accent is the only thing that ties the them together, which is seemingly enough to warrant a complete change in title. Either that or threats directly from Ramsey Street…

Harold-and-Madge

Bad Neighbours found itself in the unenviable position of being shoehorned directly in between some massive films at the peak of blockbuster season. The good news is that due to positive word of mouth, and a strong marketing campaign, Bad Neighbours looks to be one of the biggest comedy releases of the year. It has evidently hit at a time when people were craving a movie just like this and it looks to even out-perform The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in many box-office markets (a well deserved feat, because ASM2 is garbage).

Llama Score: 8 As I’ve stated many times, the quality of a comedy film should be based on how funny it is and nothing more. Bad Neighbours has a simple premise that fulfils the promise of laughs without breaking new ground or subverting the genre. It is a solid comedy to add to the list of the hilarious, raunchy features of the past 10 years.

 

Award: Golden Llama

Award: Lorne Michaels

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights Banner

 

 

– An incredible extended cast.

– Consistent laughs.

– An extended dildo fight.

Lowlights Banner

 

 

– The waste of Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Further Viewing Banner

 

 

Superbad

Animal House

Old School

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller Written by: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien Produced by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco Distributed by: Universal Pictures Run length: 97 minutes Australian Release: Out now in theatres

 

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