Film Review: ‘Bad Neighbours’

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Bad Neighbours 2

Zac Efron and Seth Rogan in ‘Bad Neighbours’.

By John Lyons

IT’S that time of the year again – the new Seth Rogen comedy has come to town. This time he stars in a film about a bunch of young, irresponsible lads who do some raunchy things and learn a couple of hard truths about life.

They may even inadvertently grow up a little bit and have a ‘bro-mance’ or two along the way.

Granted, this does sound like a fitting description for the majority of Seth Rogen’s films, but having that said, I will admit that I am a fan of his.

Seth gets a lot of criticism for playing the same character over and over again in his films, with many critics claiming that he’s not even playing a character, he’s just playing himself.

However, I would argue that Woody Allen has been playing the same character for decades. And last time I checked – nobody has raised issue with Woody Allen’s lack of acting versatility, because the films are generally good.

So that begs the question… is ‘Bad Neighbours’ good?

At the start of the film, we’re introduced to Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), a couple living in suburbia with their newborn baby. They’re adapting to married life and parenthood inch by inch, but their new responsibilities and lack of free time is making them wonder whether or not they’re becoming old and boring.

When the house next door is sold, a moving van shows up and dozens of young college students move in. A fraternity.

Mac and Kelly try to befriend the students, and it works for a while, but soon they become bitter rivals and the neighbours quickly wage war on one another.
Let me just briefly interject here and mention that five minutes into the film – the projector froze – and the film restarted from the beginning. What was interesting about this was that all the jokes in the opening five minutes that got a laugh the first time around, were met with silence the second time.

This was a very bad sign, because I’d seen all the trailers for the film, and had seen many, many jokes from the film. Would those same jokes be met with silence from me when they come along?

Unfortunately, the answer was almost always yes.
In fact, most of the laugh-out-loud moments in the film are in the trailers and advertisements for it.

So essentially, I’d seen all the funniest moments from the film before I actually went to cinema to see it – something you don’t want with a comedy. Throughout the course of the film I had a few odd laughs from a very small number of moments that didn’t appear in the trailers.

What the rest of the film had to offer was the dramatic scenes that took place every so often whenever the comedy grinded to a halt. Namely, Mac and Kelly’s insecurities about getting old and facing parenthood – and also exploring the strained relationship between the two heads of the fraternity, Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), who are struggling to come to terms with growing up, a subplot which is just a watered down version of the plot of SuperBad.

The biggest fault that ‘Bad Neighbours’ has is that it doesn’t live up to the fun premise of “What if a married couple went to war with Animal House?” This is because the bulk of the film tries to humanize all its characters by having scenes where we’re supposed to sympathize with Teddy and Pete based on their coming-of-age troubles.

However, the film has us then root for Mac and Kelly whenever the two sides start feuding again… so what was the point?
There’s plenty of great comedic moments in Bad Neighbours, but so many of them are squashed into the trailers that there’s little more to find in the film itself. What we’re left with is a couple of laughs, party scenes, and moments of melodrama that don’t add much to the film, often because they’re contradictory, unnecessary or both.

There’s talented people behind the movie, but no amount of good talent can salvage poorly written material. If you know nothing about this film, you might enjoy yourself. But then again, you could just watch the trailers on youtube and save yourself the time and money.

Even though the film has some funny moments, it has no heart beneath it. Which is a shame, because it wastes a large portion of the film trying and failing to find those moments that will pull on our heart-strings.

If you want a comedy from these filmmakers that has something more beneath the surface, you can always find: ’50/50′, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, ‘SuperBad’ and ‘Knocked Up’.


• ‘Bad Neighbours’ is currently playing at the Tralee Omniplex

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