When Ben and I went to see Bad Neighbours in the theater (That’s the title in Australia, which I actually think better describes the movie than the US title Neighbors.) I noticed something odd. There were a lot of teenage and 20-something girls coming into the theater. Just droves of them. There were probably more woman in the audience than men, which seemed odd for a Seth Rogan movie. Then Ben pointed out the obvious: the girls were there for Zach Efron. Not only was he the draw for them, but it was because they grew up watching him in the High School Musical series. That made me feel incredibly old.
I didn’t think about it during the movie (it’s incredibly funny so I was very distracted), but on second review I actually feel even older watching this. Bad Neighbours is about a couple in their early 30s who have just bought their dream house, where they are raising their new baby. Things are perfect until a fraternity buys the house next door. Their loud, inconsiderate antics lead to a feud pitting the “old” stick in the muds against the hip young college boys. I strongly identified with the married couple. But it now occurs to me that maybe some of those girls in the theater identified with the frat boys?
This movie is hysterical, mostly because it isn’t happening to me. If this were real life, it wouldn’t be funny at all. I’ve been in a frat house. They’re gross enough that I definitely wouldn’t want to live next door to one (0r even on the same block, for that matter). Still, I felt incredibly bad for Rogen and his onscreen wife, Rose Byrne, throughout. Their situation is a nightmare– admittedly made worse by some of their own actions– but a nightmare nonetheless.
I’ve obviously crossed that threshold where I am less likely to side with the kids in a movie and more likely to side with the adults (Though in this movie that distinction is often blurred). This is the first movie where I actually disliked Zach Efron. He is such a jerk in this, a big departure from the wholesome and kind characters he’s built his career on. Even Efron’s trademark charm, which shines through in many scenes, didn’t sway me. I would hate living next door to him, no matter how attractive he may be. (Very. He is very attractive.)
Bad Neighbours is an excellent comedy. It reminded me a lot of American Reunion, highlighting that weird transition into your 30s and “real” adulthood. I am often nostalgic for my partying days, only to go out and realize that it’s not as fun as I remember it being. The thought of going out is more often exhausting than enjoyable, but I’m starting to make my peace with that. I’m still decades away from yelling at kids from the front porch, but I totally get why old people do it.
It is interesting to me that the last movie we reviewed was The Jerk, a comedic classic that is risqué enough to never get made today without some sort of alteration to the plot. The next movie ended up being Bad Neighbours. One of the funniest movies to be released this year. These films could not be more different, but are good examples of how much comedies have changed in the past thirty years.
Bad Neighbours stars Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radnor, a young couple with a newborn baby girl. They are distraught to discover that the house next door has been purchased by members of a college fraternity. They initially set out to be welcoming to their new neighbours, but as the noise levels and their shenanigans increase, the couple decide to pull out all the stops to get their new neighbours to move away.
The biggest surprise of this movie is Zac Efron. He has struggled to escape his pretty boy image he was shackled with after headlining Disney’s High School Musical film series. This film does a good job of showing he is more than just a pretty face (although he definitely still has one of those, and some pretty sick abs too). Efron’s comedic timing is great. He works well with Seth Rogan and his fellow fraternity brothers Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Their chemistry is great together. One of the funniest scenes for me was when they have a Robert DeNiro themed party and they all come dressed as different DeNiro characters. Seeing them mimic an acting legend is the film’s highlight for me. There is also the randomness of a black member coming as Sam Jackson from Pulp Fiction, a character from a movie that did not star DeNiro at all. These little quirky jokes are littered throughout the film and it works so well. I also really liked Lisa Kudrow as the school dean. Her character is great.
This film is very funny. It is such a simple idea of having two newlyweds realise very quickly that they are not as young, hip or cool as they thought. It works really well, and the solid cast does a really good job. Rose Byrne is a lot of fun as Kelly. She gets to use her Australian accent for the first time in a while on the big screen, and she shows that the laughs she achieved in Bridesmaids were not a fluke. She is very funny and definitely holds her own when she could just as easily get lost in the shadows of Seth Rogan or Zac Efron.
Bad Neighbours is a hilarious comedy. It is, along with 22 Jump Street, the funniest film of 2014.