Monday 5 May 2014

Film Review: Bad Neighbours

Bad Neighbours is a comedy from the bright minds behind last years This Is The End - starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and Dave Franco, Bad Neighbours is more of the same from Rogen and co: lewd, crude, gross stoner comedy. And dick jokes. Lots of dick jokes. 

Two amicable newly-weds Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are starting to get their life together - they have a new baby, they have a nice house in the 'burbs. Life is sweet - or is it? The duo yearn for their lost youth, and it isn't long before they find themselves faced with some new neighbours in the form of a frat house, lead by Teddy (Zac Efron).

With the frat keen to party incessantly through the night, the duo struggle to maintain a balance between being responsible adults and trying to play it cool with their new neighbours. Before long, the two sides have declared open warfare through a series of elaborate pranks.

Now, on the whole, I don't enjoy the brand of humour that has made Seth Rogen the recognisable face he is today - I find his childish blend of jokes about dicks, weed and more dicks to be a big downside. This is the main reason I didn't enjoy last years' This Is The End, or many of his previous films like Superbad or Knocked Up. Put simply, if you aren't already a fan of the guy's work, this film is unlikely to win you over. Bad Neighbours has a great premise, and the script has flashes of brilliance, but for the most part is was a very underwhelming comedy.

In terms of the cast, I thought that the strongest links were Rose Byrne and Zac Efron. The former, previously having done comedy in 2011's Bridesmaids, was actually pretty funny and her character is written really well. She doesn't play second fiddle to Rogen, and steals the show in some respects.

Efron was also really great, surprisingly so. His delivery of the sometimes uneven dialogue was layered with some great personal touches and inflections, showcasing a previously glimpsed penchant for comedy in films like 17 Again and Hairspray. The same can be said for Dave Franco, who plays Efron's second-in-command; one scene where Franco impersonates Robert De Niro's character from Meet the Fockers was hilarious.

In fact, there were quite a few pop culture references and asides that made me chuckle in this film, at least more so than gross-out scenes like that breastfeeding one. Seriously though, there are some set-pieces that will leave you just thinking 'what the hell was that'? as they add literally nothing to the plot and are just there for the shock value.

For me, the weakest link was the lead man himself, Seth Rogen. Like I said, I don't really go in for his type of comedy anyway, and that was the case once again in Bad Neighbours. The inherent issue is that he doesn't appear to be stretching himself or moving outside of his well-established schtick. Every character he plays is the same - a lazy, underachieving, childish, crude slob that is hard to root for.

Sure, there are elements to his character in this new film that are somewhat charming, but for the most part I found it hard to laugh along at his antics when every other joke was about being stoned or dicks. It's getting old Mr. Rogen, you're 32 now.

Things start off well, with the opening twenty minutes providing an entertaining set-up; it's when things get messy in the middle (one particular scene full of UV lights and glow paint was hard to endure) that I began to switch off. It felt like things were taking a long time to kick into gear, and when they did, there wasn't anything particularly surprising or laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The Verdict: 5/10

With a simple premise and cartoonish characters, Bad Neighbours fails to deliver on the promise of wacky Looney Tunes shenanigans - instead, it's more of the same puerile high-school humour for which Rogen is renowned. Efron, Franco and Byrne were redeeming qualities, and whilst there were elements I found funny, the problem was I could count them on one hand. The rest will be sure to delight audiences with a mental age of a 12-year-old. 

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