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aka - Neighbors
USA 2014
Directed by
Nicholas Stoller
96 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Bad Neighbours

Synopsis: A married couple, Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) with a newborn baby join in a battle for supremacy when a college fraternity moves in next door.

A hybrid of John Landis’s benchmark 1978 frat-pack comedy Animal House and John Avildson’s 1981 classic Belushi-Ackroyd pairing Neighbors, Nicholas Stoller’s comedy, Bad Neighbours, is much closer to the former in its juvenile boy humour, replete with a steady stream of dick, vagina (a word much in use in film comedy these days, although “c*nt” also gets a look in) and tit jokes.  Which is not to say that there aren’t chuckles to be had but that is more because of the transgressive style of the humour rather than any evident wit. The most inventive moments, such as the Robert De Niro party and Lisa Kudrow as a PR-conscious college dean are underwritten and the worst, such as the one involving Kelly’s over-lactating boobs and the baby sucking on a HIV-infected condom, well like I said, they’re well-suited to the mental profile of the adolescent male.

The main problem with the film, and it is similar to the failure of the director’s previous effort, Get Him To The Greek, (2007) is that the story is simply an armature for the gags. The core premise of the face-off between the two parties is a good one -  new parents Mac and Kelly long to revisit their youth, their opposite number, fraternity president, Teddy (Zac Efron) is struggling to deny his impending adulthood – it's a love-hate relationship but the execution is crudely haphazard. There is, for example, no explanation of why no-one else in the Radnor's suburban street are perturbed by the fratboys constant partying, or why Officer Watkins (Hannibal Buress) travels in a patrol car alone. There is, in other words, no credible setting for the antics.

In anyone’s language, Mac and Kelly are, at best, idiots. and not even remotely recognizable as parents  The irresponsible jackass is Rogen’s stock-in-trade but you’d think Byrne (who was recently widely praised for her performance in The Turning) could do better than play up to this kind of developmentally-retarded caricature. Given the general adherence to stupid behaviour, Zac Efron invests his character with a surprising degree of humanity, endowing the story with its brief moments of depth. The scene between him and Dave (brother to James) Franco is one of the film's best moments. On the other hand, how many times can Christopher Mintz-Plasse keep appearing in films based solely on his past-use-by identity as McLovin in 2007's Superbad?  And, finally, that baby (played by twins Elise and Zoey Vargas) is as cute as all get-out.

Personally I think there area lot better things that you can do with your time and money but if you really want to indulge in some cinematic junk-food Bad Neighbours will hit the spot.




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