We know what you’re thinking. A comedy featuring such acting powerhouses as Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and Zac Efron in a fraternity house setting is definitely going to be the must-see film of the year. No? Well, it certainly isn’t fantastic, but ‘Bad Neighbours’ (titled ‘Neighbors’ in the US, which aside from the horrible spelling brings up memories of a certain Kylie-featuring Australian soap for us Brits) still manages to surpass expectations and sit comfortably in the ‘watchable fluff’ category when it could have been so much worse.
Rogen has established himself as the go-to actor for any over-the-top, borderline offensive American ‘comedy’ that revels in bawdiness over subtlety and often subscribes to the philosophy that the more ridiculous and vile the scenario, the funnier it has to be. While that’s definitely the rule in most cases, and it even is here to an extent, but the thing that differentiates ‘Bad Neighbours’ from most of the schlocky comedies is the way it plays upon the different roles of the characters, from the faux-respectable former partyhead parents played by Rogen and the always reliable Rose Byrne and the fun-loving students played by Zac Efron and Dave Franco. They all have good chemistry, and lots of the funniest parts come not when things are flying about and people are espousing the value of homemade dildos, but when the conflict between the progression of life as one has a child comes in to conflict with the nostalgic memory Byrne and Rogen both have of a comparatively freer time, which is exacerbated by the presence of Efron and Franco’s characters.
What it makes for is a classic clash of two different lifestyles that has been done so many times before, but is done with a touch more edge and gives more depth to all of the main characters so you come to empathise, but not necessarily sympathise, with both sides of the conflict. It may be pretty hit and miss with its humour but over the course of its 97 minute run-time, it uses what it has going for it to ensure enough laughs are drawn out of you to make it a worthwhile experience that belies expectation even if it does grate from time to time. A pleasant enough if unspectacular surprise.
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