Featuring the kind of language that would make your gran turn blue, Bad Neighbours continues Hollywood’s trend of R-rated comedies. Ever since the likes of Judd Apatow struck gold with his foul-mouthed brand of humour there’s been no looking back. So does Bad Neighbours tickle the funny bone or deserve a good bleeping-out.
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) have just moved into a new house with their infant daughter. Neither is quite ready to make the final relocation to adulthood but when a college fraternity moves into the house next door they realise they may not have a choice. The frat is led by the horribly good-looking Teddy (Zac Efron) and his right-hand-man Pete (Dave Franco). At first the neighbours play nice but when Mac and Kelly call the cops on one of the frat’s parties the gloves are off as they wage war on the happy couple.
The mark of any successful R-rated comedy seems to be to take the line of what is acceptable and then cross it in as amusing, but inoffensive, a way as possible. So Bad Neighbours has little in the way of plot, more a series of pranks concocted by testosterone fuelled college kids and adults who should really know better. It’s very much a case of high-concept rather than highbrow humour.
So the film kind of works, it has its moments of genuine comedy that stem from the character interactions and dialogue rather than the stupid situations they get themselves into. The problem is the comedy is just a little too much on the cringe side. The film opens with Mac and Kelly trying to bump uglies while their daughter watches on – in fact the young daughter’s reactions are often the most scene-stealing thing on offer – which while funny is never really laugh-out-loud. Nothing in Bad Neighbours will make you laugh but it might make you smile.
Of course Rogen and Byrne have had their biggest successes thanks to the emergence of the R-rated comedy. Rogen continues his lovable schlub routine of Knocked Up and This Is The End. Byrne meanwhile plays against her normal stuck-up routine of Bridesmaids to bring a healthy dose of sex appeal combined with comedic facial expressions. It’s about time someone proved that Leslie Mann isn’t the only hot mum on the block. But the real standout is Efron. He’s always had comedy chops, just look at 17 Again and this year’s That Awkward Moment, but here really plays up to his six-pack sporting jock. The frustrating thing is that the film is fun when Efron, Rogen and Byrne are all partying-on but, sadly, they spend most of the running time not getting on.
You probably wouldn’t want to live next to them but these Bad Neighbours are just about nice enough to at least lend you a cup of sugar.