Film review: BAD NEIGHBOURS, from Built For Speed

Bad Neighbours seems to have been spawned by a vaguely interesting idea, to mix Animal House-style frat boy comedy with the rambling, 30-something relationship comedy of Judd Apatow.  Unfortunately, Bad Neighbours takes the worst aspects of both, namely the crass, juvenile gags of the frat boy movie and the unfocused momentum-free narrative of a Judd Apatow film to create a noisy, painfully unfunny, head ache-inducing mess of a film.

In yet another cacophonous, yelping, blustering humour-free performance Seth Rogen plays Mac Radner an average-Joe office schlub who has just had a baby with wife Kelly (Rose Byrne).  Mistakenly believing that they can enjoy a peaceful transition into parenthood and middle-aged responsibility, they suddenly find their suburban Utopia shattered when a raucous college fraternity takes over the house next door.  After attempting to placate the 24-hour party animals and their obnoxious president Teddy (Zac Efron), the 30-something couple mistakenly call in the police provoking a wave of retaliation from the beer pigs.

What follows is a tenth-rate knock-off of Project X mixed with mindless Jackass-style sight gags in which people are either blown up or smacked in the head.  The film is also filled with tedious, witless and interminable scenes of characters squabbling with one another.  Worst of all are the embarrassingly awful exchanges between Zac Efron and his frat house sidekick Dave Franco about bro’s, ho’s and the frat boy code of behaviour.  The film deserves special condemnation for plonking one of these nauseating squabbles right in the middle of a sequence involving disgustingly gratuitous product placement.

Rogen’s insufferable bellowing is worse than even here and the sight of him gobbling magic mushrooms and stumbling around, half-naked in slow motion to the strains of Kesha’s Live Fast Die Young is about as welcome as having one’s genitalia shaved with a cheese grater.  Someone should call the Vatican, though, as this film achieves a miracle by making the squeaky Dave Franco even more obnoxious than Seth Rogen.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse, in a smaller role, is almost as annoying as Franco and doesn’t form a coherent sentence during the entire film.  Zac Efron almost creates a menacing piss-take on his pretty boy uber-mensch persona but he ends up being just another shirtless bore. 

We shouldn’t expect a comic master class from Rogen, Efron and Franco but somehow they’re even less funny than we could imagine.  We would, however, expect a few laughs from a seasoned comic actor like Lisa Kudrow but she is completely wasted in a cameo as the college Dean.   A feisty and endearingly loopy performance from Rose Byrne as Kelly, however, almost makes this film tolerable.

Fleetingly, the film makes some insightful observations about generational warfare and the pressures of adult responsibility before it resorts to scenes of people scoffing drugs or being kicked in the nuts.  A few moments of vaguely amusing politically incorrect humour also sneak into this film but for the most part this is an exhaustingly witless and irritating film.

Nick’s rating: *1/2.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: TBA.

Director(s): Nicholas Stoller.

Release date: 8th May 2014.

Running time: 96 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 


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