Rogen, Efron comedy is rewardingComment on this story
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller
CAST: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
CLASSIFICATION: 16 DLS
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
SETH Rogen and Zac Efron make for amusing alter-egos in Bad Neighbours, a shaggy, baggy collegiate comedy that is less a coherent movie than a loosely assembled series of lewd jokes and punishing slapstick routines.
Unfortunately, one of the funniest sequences – involving a prank with purloined air bags – has already been overworked to death in Bad Neighbours trailers, which have also tipped the film’s hand as to its edge-dwelling sense of humour. Viewers who find unbridled hilarity in the idea of babies eating condoms, men duelling with sex toys and 30-something yuppies keepin’ it trill by using words like “trill” will find much to value in Bad Neighbours, as long as they don’t get lost in such little details as credibility or lost opportunities.
It seems like just last year that Rogen was cinema’s reigning arrested adolescent, cavorting with pals James Franco and Jonah Hill in This is the End. In Bad Neighbours Rogen is (almost) all grown up as Mac Radner who, with wife Kelly (Byrne), is raising the world’s most awesome baby in a cosy college-town bungalow. When the house next door is sold to a fraternity, the Radners at first try to make nice with the group’s president, a bronzed, charming cock-of-the-walk named Teddy (Efron), who immediately invites them in for beer and magic mushrooms.
It’s all rainbows and unicorns, of course, until the frat’s next rager, which leads the Radners to call the police. What ensues is a picket-fence feud of escalating traps and dirty tricks, each more vulgar and explosively violent than the last.
Directed with characteristic haphazard style by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, The Five-Year Engagement), Bad Neighbours isn’t designed to impress with subtle comedy or clever construction. Rather, it’s a movie of whammies: one-liners, shticks and sight gags that don’t gain in momentum or accrue in meaning. They just happen, quickly, then get out of the way to make room for the next one.
Although Byrne has some promising moments as a bored stay-at-home mom, and Kudrow shows up in a weirdly un-funny cameo as an uptight college dean, Bad Neighbours is primarily a bromance: between Teddy and his best friend, Pete (Franco), a bespectacled brain whose love for his Adonis-like leader is clearly much deeper than fraternal, and between Mac and Teddy. Rogen and Efron prove to be excellent sports when Bad Neighbours exploits their dramatically different physiques, first during an amusing dance-off and in an improbably rewarding payoff at the end. (As for Mac and Kelly’s preternaturally cute baby, Stella, she is adorably and expressively played by twins Elise and Zoey Vargas.)
Until then, however, viewers must slog through all manner of crude, coarse, often lazily choreographed bits that feel rote and barely warmed-over, from a graphic anatomical stunt performed by Mintz-Plasse to a dumb scene involving Robert DeNiro impressions. (If the part where Rogen and Efron engage in a Batman voice competition seems familiar, it’s because Steven Coogan and Rob Brydon did it first and better with Michael Caine impressions in The Trip.)
Still, Bad Neighbours will reward audiences who demand little more than a few broad, easy laughs, which describes most film-goers these days. To quote Mac and Kelly in their best under-graduate patois: I’m not judgin’, I’m just sayin’. – Washington Post
If you liked Superbad and We’re the Millers, you will like this.
WIN! WIN! WIN!
To celebrate the nationwide release of Bad Neighbours, Tonight is giving five lucky readers the chance to win a set of Seth Rogen DVDs. The films making up our hamper are Knocked Up, a comedy about the consequences of a drunken one-night stand; and Paul, a sci-fi road trip starring Simon Pegg, with Rogen providing the voice of the title character.
To stand a chance of winning, all you need to do is answer this very easy question: Who plays Mac Radner in Bad Neighbours?
Send your answer, along with your contact details, to firstname.lastname@example.org, with Bad Neighbours competition in the subject field. The competition closes on Wednesday, July 23, at midnight. Only the winners will be contacted.