It’s been a while since we’ve had a comedy that strikes the balance between playing to the crowd and keeping the critics happy. Not really since Ted have we been treated to a foul mouthed movie that delivers on the promise of big laughs and star performances from it’s sparring leads. Enter Bad Neighbours; a simple premise executed simply brilliantly. Thirty-something couple Kelly and Mac Radner (Byrne & Rogen) are struggling to adjust to their socially restrictive life as new parents when they find themselves neighbours of a group of loud lewd frat-boys.
Led by Zac Efron’s super-buff Teddy and his loyal lieutenant Pete (Franco) the boys not only provide the expected headache but serve as a stark reminder of the kind of lifestyle the Radners have left behind. Equal parts outraged by and in awe of the behaviour of the fraternity guys, Mac and Kelly’s initial, embarrassing attempts at befriending them eventually give way to all out war.
The laughs come thick and fast as the fighting between the houses escalates, and the prank war begins to take it’s toll on both sides of the fence. The inventive one-upmanship leads to some fantastic laugh-out-loud gags, with Efron’s sociopathic frat-boy and his cohorts refusing to reign in their wild lifestyle and the Radners refusing to concede defeat.
Director Nicholas Stoller is to be commended for bringing the best out of Efron and his previously unseen talent for comedy proves one of the highlights of the film. Rogen too is a standout as the much maligned victim of most of Teddy’s reprisals and shares some cracking chemistry with Efron. Rogen and Byrne prove to be a surprisingly effective comic pairing throughout, with neither participant slacking off when it comes to landing the low blows necessary to send audiences off on a high. Refreshingly, they’re shown as an equal partnership with Byrne just as hellbent on revenge as Rogen.
What separates Bad Neighbours from the pack is that it’s naughty and nice in near equal measure. As the battle for peace and quiet gets lewder and louder the movie finds a way for all involved to get a shot a redemption and for all the big bad laughs you’d expect it’s sprinkled with surprising sweetness.
Bad Neighbours is riotous fun from beginning to end and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. Efron is a revelation (if you can forgive the sight of his nipples and hairless chest for a fair chunk of the running time) and in a summer mainly starved of sweary comedy, Bad Neighbours is highly recommended. May wind up one of the funniest films you’ll see all year.
(Images courtesy Collider, Tumblr, Empire)
(Images courtesy Universal, Collider, Tumblr)