Writers: Andrew J. Cohen , Brendan O’Brien
Cast: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Running Time: 96 mins
The lowdown: Iron your togas and practice your beer pong as Zac Efron’s fraternity moves next door to newly-bored parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. Director Nicholas Stoller follows up his Five Year Engagement with a fresh approach to college comedy. The result is filthy fun that makes Old School look like Playschool; pledge your allegiance now!
The full verdict: Comedies of this genre typically pit loveable misfits against oppressive authority figures intent on shutting them down. The difference here is that the antagonists are not uptight prudes but liberal thirty-somethings struggling with the responsibilities of parenthood and the end of their wild and crazy party days.
Big-screenwriting newcomers Andrew J.Cohen and Brendan O’Brien deliver a smarter-than -you’d-expect script that recognises what culturally bridges the generation gap and the cringeworthy chasms that divide it. How a simple request to ‘keep it down’ can escalate into small scale war.
Director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has a blast recreating the frat’s booze, boobs and bong-fuelled bacchanalia with cheeky nods to Kubrick and Landis thrown in for the eagle-eyed viewer.
A vanity-free Seth Rogen kicks his affable stoner schtick up an evolutionary step playing devoted but overwhelmed husband and father Mac Radner.
Rose Byrne, having hinted at her comedic gifts in Bridesmaids and Stoller’s Get Him To The Greek, finally gets to utilise her skills and Australian accent as stay-at-home mum Kelly, coping badly with boredom and breast pumps.
Together they make a likable couple and laughs are split equally, with Byrne as much a catalyst for the ensuing chaos as Rogen. It’s a welcome change from the mean spirited misogyny of Todd Phillips’ recent oeuvre where women are harpies, hookers or humbled housewives and nothing more.
As leader of the frat, Zac Efron is more than willing to send up his pumped-up preppie image. His chemistry with Rogan is believable and watching them beerily bond over Batman is one of the film’s quieter highlights.
It’s a shame then that the other fraternity brothers are little more than one-line wonders. Characters are introduced when necessary to the plot and then leave unsatisfactorily when they’ve served their purpose. The talent amassed on the sidelines, including Christopher Mintz-Plasse, deserves more than this.
The commitment to the laugh is commendable and the set-pieces are occasionally (in the case of some strategically- placed airbags) painfully funny. Bad Neighbours may not reach the iconic heights hoped for, but this is a welcome addition to the class.