Natalie Stendall’s Film Review: Bad Neighbour

Bad Neighbours. Copyright Universal Studios.
Bad Neighbours. Copyright Universal Studios.

The Superbad generation grows up in this ‘family versus frat boy’ comedy from Judd Apatow proteges Nicholas Stoller and Seth Rogen.

When Teddy’s (Zac Efron) loud, partying fraternity moves in next door to new, suburbanite parents Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), the swelling culture clash leads to all out war.

But not before Mac and Kelly confront their own reluctance to give up on spontaneous fun.

Weed and dildo gags meet jokes about breast milk and baby paraphernalia in this generational comedy for the under 40s.

Stoller’s comedy casts a wide net and Rogen scores plenty of goals. At its most hilarious, Bad Neighbours embraces whacky slapstick, quick-fire dialogue loaded with Batman impersonations and pop culture references, and Robert De Niro fancy dress.

At its worst Bad Neighbours descends into improvised shouting matches and juvenile gross-out gags. Add to this a few questionable jokes about women - including a morally dubious story development that sees plotting Kelly ply Teddy’s girlfriend with shots to encourage two-timing casual sex - and Bad Neighbours starts to unravel.

Even so, Kelly fares much better than the usual put-upon Apatow females, getting her own play for the irresponsibility crown.

Yet this generational mash up leaves little space for character development and the frats fall short of the tightly written young guys we see in Rogen’s earlier movies.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad’s McLovin fame reappears in a forgettable bit part and Efron’s Teddy can’t make up his mind whether he’s a well-mannered do-gooder or an obnoxious party-boy.

As for Mac and Kelly, it’s not the first time Rogen has found comedy in parenthood. Knocked Up (2007) saw Rogen man-up to the consequences of a one night stand and - behind its brash gags - Bad Neighbours offers the same kind of heart.

Bringing Rogen together with director Nicholas Stoller, whose talent for capturing bubbling chemistry and loveable stoner humour appears in his comedies from Forgetting Sarah Marshall to The Five-Year Engagement, Bad Neighbours shows a softer side to its Project X mentality.

Having written the game-changing teen comedy Superbad at just 14, Rogen is well known for his ability to tap into the consciousness of his peer group.

It was only a matter of time before his thirty-something self came face to face with the fun-seekers of his youth.

In this effort Bad Neighbours offers a neat reflection on the messages carried by Rogen’s earlier comedies, as hunky jock Teddy realises his partying may have cost him a career.

Here belly laughs meet eye-rolling dick jokes but Rogen and Byrne’s loveable relatability make Bad Neighbours a warm comedy for the original Superbad generation without ever forgetting to welcome its newest members.

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 97 minutes

Verdict: 3/5