Neighbors [Bad Neighbours] Movie Review
There's a blast of raucous energy to this lively comedy that sets it apart from the pack; aside from a willingness to get deeply rude and incorrect, the movie is actually very funny. It helps that it's packed with snappy characters and witty dialogue, and that the cast makes the gratuitously vulgar humour come to life in surprising ways.
It opens with happy couple Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), whose idyllic life with their ridiculously cute baby is interrupted when a frat house moves in next door. They want to be cool about it, so introduce themselves and nicely ask the fraternity leaders Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco) to keep it down. They even indulge in a bit of partying themselves. But the noise only gets louder, and when Mac and Kelly call the cops in a moment of desperation, they spark a war that escalates into a series of crazy practical jokes. This also gets the fraternity in trouble with their university administrator (Lisa Kudrow), which only fuels the battle.
Director Nicholas Stoller (The Five-Year Engagement) keeps things moving briskly, packing every scene with shamelessly coarse humour. For every joke that falls flat (like a breast-feeding set-piece), there are five more gags immediately following that generate gut-busting laughter. While the plot is little more than a series of elaborate pranks, there's an unstoppable momentum that builds to a riotous party climax. Even more important is the way the actors are allowed to twist their stereotypical characters to add some meaningful subtext.
Efron and Franco represent irresponsible youth longing for a bit of stability, while Rogen and Byrne are adults who aren't quite ready to be grown-ups. None of this is terribly deep, but it gives the movie just enough weight to hold the interest, especially as each character is forced to confront his or her expectations about life. Thankfully, Stoller and his screenwriters never get sentimental about any of this, remembering that their first responsibility is to make the audience laugh. And it's a rare comedy that does the job quite this well.