Bad Neighbours

May 08, 2014

Seth Rogan produces and stars in this insipid Nicholas Stoller-directed comedy drawn straight from the teen-market movie kit.

It concerns the collision between a youngish married couple and the new occupants of an adjoining property which has just been turned into a fraternity house. Do they get on? Like hell, they do.

Mac Radner (Rogan) devises a plan with his equally daft Australian wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) to befriend the neighbours so that they can maintain a quiet life with their cute baby. There is a promising beginning, but then the loud parties continue and things go predictably awry. The battle between the two camps escalates.

Zac Efron plays Teddy Sanders, the president of the fraternity, who is clinging to the only identity that offers him respect. He is a poor student but wants to be a “legend” among his college friends – his bro-s. Efron spends several parts of the movie shirtless. He’s pretty enough, but is this part of his contract?

Pratfalls and dumb decisions abound, Three Stooges-style, but with the addition of everyone’s constant consumption of drugs. The antics on both sides of the fence are excessively non-PC, with lots and lots of dick jokes, a pair of fake tits in a mother’s milk scene, and hazing of younger students included. You can thank writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien.

There is a winning household at the end of this tired plot, and the central characters show belated regard for real consequences, but the latter is not credible. Any argument that the movie ultimately reveals a moral centre may seem appealing, but it carries little more logical weight here than the equivalent Hollywood requirement for a happy ending.

Okay, it nods at the notion of growing up, but there’s scant evidence that this is more than a sop. Hey, look! The supposedly much wiser Mac and Kelly are now dressing their baby as a meth-lab crook! There’s a difference between cheap laughs and pushing artistic boundaries.

The movie is titled Neighbors elsewhere, presumably to distinguish it from a certain soapie. You’d be better off digging out that sit-com if you want originality. Nobody in this unsophisticated movie goes beyond stupidity and lowbrow.

Rogan knows his market, though. Back in 1926, HL Mancken wrote: “No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses.” Curmudgeonly or not, if he were still about he would doubtless point to this movie as further proof.

 More InDaily film reviews:

Fading Gigolo
Spanish Film Festival: Living is Easy with Eyes Closed
The Other Woman
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Invisible Woman
Like Father, Like Son
Any Day Now
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Half of a Yellow Sun




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