Bad Neighbours - film review

It feels like we've been starved of good comedies this year but that could change with the release of Bad Neighbours.

Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne and Dave Franco, this comedy about two households who declare war on each other is riotous fun as Rogen and Byrne realise that their new neighbourinos are a fraternity house (aka students).

After Rogen and Byrne try to impress them, things descend into anarchy when they file a complaint to the police. The fraternity fights back with pranks and the war escalates as both houses try to gain the upper hand. With hilarious results. No, really.

There’s not much depth to the film and, if we're being honest, we like that. Quite a few comedies in recent years have drifted past the two-hour mark, but at a breezy 96 minutes Bad Neighbours supplies the laughs and keeps them coming without ever straining for punch lines or indeed fumbling over them. It’s slick, short and sweet.

If you are looking for a slice of depth (you're probably watching the wrong film), then you might find it in Rogen/Byrne’s attempts to recapture their youth while struggling with the responsibilities of raising a family. It's a regular feature of Apatow films to have their characters refuse to grow up and that theme is evident again here.

On the other side of the fence, Efron’s frat president Teddy Saunders (who's as smart as a plank of wood) is having a quarter-life crisis, wanting to cement his legacy by throwing the best ever party. His bromance with Franco's Pete strikes up some good comedy moments, especially a trip to a job fair that requires watching through your fingers.

Performances across the board are good with the highlight being Byrne’s Kelly Radner, retaining the comedic chops she had in Bridesmaids with a fine performance.

She keeps her Australian accent as well and her spin on lines, physical tics and just general confusion at what's going on around her (“I thought her name was Dean”) makes her a delight to watch as she bumbles and schemes her way through the film.

Both Rogen and Efron are decent too, with the latter showing a side that his appearances in Disney films didn’t allow for. Rogen is a reliable presence even if his schlubby character is a role we’ve seen him play many, many times.

Special mention also goes to Craig Roberts (you may remember him from Brit film Submarine) who’s very funny in his brief role as a frat boy who’s willing to be subjected to any frat initiation task, no matter how disgusting or degrading it is.

The film does feel predictable in places. There’s nothing here that’s surprising, shocking or particularly new and we must admit, we were struggling to remember some of the jokes a few days later.

While it’s full of belly laughs it does lack that iconic scene or moment that would take it to the next level. Regardless, it’s a film that’s always looking for the next way of making you laugh and we can’t think of a stinker of a joke throughout the whole film. In that respect, it’s a very successful comedy.

And visually we’re surprised by what director Nick Stoller (The Five-Year Engagement, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has brought to the film too.

Eschewing the pared down look you see in many comedies, Bad Neighbours is exuberant at times featuring bright and vivid colours, especially in its night scenes. One party scene recalls Enter the Void or last year’s Spring Breakers with its neon, strobe light effect giving the film a garish colour palette.

If you're looking to wile away a couple of hours then we'd happily point you in the direction of Bad Neighbours. Full of pop-culture nods and a few cameos here and there, it's a very likeable film if you're prepared for some fairly immature fun.

Kob began his career at What Hi-Fi?, starting in the dusty stockroom before rising up the ranks to join the editorial and production team as the Buyer’s Guide editor. Experienced in both magazine and online publishing, he now runs the TV & audio section at Trusted Reviews where he keeps a beady eye on all the latest comings and goings in the hi-fi and home cinema market.