Saturday, 10 May 2014

Bad Neighbours (JA)

After dealing with demonic horrors of the end of time in This is the End, Seth Rogan now faces the far more difficult and dangerous challenges of domestic life. Apparently the next logical adversary after Satan are students, as he and wife (Rose Bryne) do battle with the anarchic booze swilling fraternity moving in next door.

This set up leads up, of course, to the traditional gross out antics, chaos and other such familiar items from the modern mainstream comedy check list. Therefore, prepare for another round of the usual penis gags, excessive alcohol consumption and numerous illegal substances, and a hero who wants to be young and irresponsible, and is gradually faced with the need to mature. So far so cliché, yet what is nice about Bad Neighbours is that it features a suitable nemesis in Zac Efron’s fraternity president faced with a terrible and understandably disturbing vision of his future self next door. It may sound trite but this is by far the best and most interesting idea the film has, especially since Efron remains extremely watchable throughout the film, appearing in comparison to everyone else to be strangely believable and, dare I say it, human. 

Meanwhile Seth Rogen simply does his thing, which is perfectly watchable albeit repetitive, while Rose Bryne is fine, with the most interesting aspect of the character being that it is stupid and irresponsible, character traits that are so rarely possessed by women in films. That, after all, is strictly a male prerogative, something the film is all to glad to point out as it invokes the dark spectre of Kevin James, perhaps simply in an effort to look better in comparison (they succeed). Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but the act of waving credentials of their own film so rampantly in the audience’s faces as to discuss it onscreen, does seem a little heavy handed.

Of course the main question one has to ask of a comedy is whether the thing is actually funny, and here the answer is kind of ‘meh’. There are a few reasonable gags but none that are really new, while the gross out has been done before grosser and funnier. In addition, it may be nice to see this strange visage of American almost-manhood doing stupid things, but I could not help but want more than just the same old rigmarole that has become oh so familiar in comedy.

Especially since this film does have some good ideas, but simply does not know how to utilise them effectively. Which is very disappointing, especially considering Zac Efron’s sort of villain is busy stealing the show, and you can’t help but wish he had better material to work with as I am sure he could have produced a few good laughs. Not to say Bad Neighbours is well bad. There are more than enough bad comedies in the world; unfortunately, there are also too many mediocre ones. 

 James Absolon

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