Review: Bad Neighbours

Bad-Neighbours

I went to the cinema the other day to watch Godzilla, full of childlike glee at getting to see a Godzilla film in the cinema for the first time… unless I’d seen the awful Roland Emmerich version and have blocked it from my mind. Especially after seeing how it could be done by Guillermo Del Toro last Summer with Pacific Rim. What I didn’t realise is that Godzilla wasn’t released until the next day. Damn.

The only film that I hadn’t seen that was also on at roughly the same time was Bad Neighbours, the latest Seth Rogan comedy vehicle to hit the big screen. So, with a heavy heart and because I’d made the trip out anyway (plus, because of my unlimited card, I wasn’t paying!), I got tickets to see a comedy… something that  has brought dubious results in the past – a comedy that also starred Zac Efron, which makes it the first Efron movie I’ve ever watched. What was I doing?! The audience was rowdier than usual, which made my instantly regret my decision, but they settled down when the film started.

The plot of the film Is that Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne are a couple who have just had a child and bought their first home, what then transpires is that a college fraternity moves in next door and all hell breaks loose. Rogan & Byrne try to come across as cool and ‘down with the kids’ while also asking for the students to keep the partying to a minimum, something while is destined not to happen and so ensues a tit-for-tat prank playing spree with increasingly ludicrous results.

The film starts off pretty well, with some funny, if not predictable, gags about how parenthood is stopping the lives of the parents while all their friends are out partying and the fact that they aren’t many years removed from their younger neighbours, yet the gulf between their lifestyles is immeasurable.

I’m a fan of Seth Rogan and he turns in a reliably solid performance, Rose Byrne seems to be trying too hard, as do the couple’s friends played by Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo, Zac Efron seems to be slightly out of his league, especially in the improvised scenes and Dave France has a thankless job of backing Efron up and actually comes across as the character you root for out of the frat pack. There are a couple of cameos that stand out, one being a wonderful turn by Lisa Kudrow as the dean of the college who constantly tries to spin the disastrous tales of debauchery into more palatable headlines for the local press. The other is from Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who seems to be there just to pick up the cheque and whose character has barely five lines of dialogue in the whole film.

The problem with these improvised comedies where the director gives the cast free rein to go wherever they want with the script means that these types of comedies can feel very baggy, and this one is no different. There are large sections where you can tell the actors are just riffing because there is no definite script for the scene at hand and this means that the film itself could be about 20-30 minutes shorter and nothing would have felt lost.

This is not t o say there aren’t some good set pieces, the hiding of airbags is really funny, but would have been funnier still if they hadn’t been used in the trailer. It’s just the getting to the set pieces that takes up too much time.

One last thing I will say is that Efron’s body puts too much pressure on men to reach a certain level of fitness and body shape, in fact, in the scenes where he has his top off – which is a lot of the time – it took my attention off what was going on in the film. It’s the first time I’ve started to understand the hysteria around him!

Overall, it wasn’t Godzilla, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be either. Entertaining yet forgettable.

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