TRIGGER WARNINGS: Drug use, alcohol, rape mention
‘The Dream Team’ is a personal summation I use for any film containing the likes of Seth Rogen, Dave/James Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and any of their other frequent collaborators. A cultural phenomenon uniting the greatest comedic forces of the past few years. Nicholas Stoller’s Bad Neighbours is another one of these outings.
Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne star as Mac and Kelly, new parents moving into their first home. They work, they try to keep up their sex life and dress their child up as Heisenberg for calenders, y’know, normal adult stuff. This is until a fraternity move in next door. Delta Psi, headed by Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), are everything you’d expect from a frat pack, hard-partying, loud and determined to gain entry to the Hall of Fame by holding THE ULTIMATE FRAT PARTY EVER.
As the parties get louder Mac and Kelly’s wits get shorter and its frats vs parents in a cunning game to get the boys kicked out of their house. There’s airbags, dildos, weed and manipulation with a barrel of gags on par with the college movies of the early noughties. (please let this be a revival?)
While there is no doubt that Zac Efron is the definition of attractive white male (with better maintained eyebrows than any teen girl) his acting has actually become very versatile, comfortably allowing him to slip between drama, romance and comedy quicker than you can say ‘we’re all in this together’. Versatility is also one of Rose Byrne’s strong points, perfectly portraying the mother I would hope to be, a total sweetheart with a foul mouth. As for Seth Rogen, I could quite easily watch 90 minutes of him getting stoned and laughing . Dave Franco stars as Teddy’s best pal Pete, still a total idiot, but with his head screwed on a bit tighter and there’s also a brief appearance from Welsh lovely Craig Roberts, whose skill for deadpan hilarity does not go amiss.
The likeable couple root the film in more than just crude comedy, their struggle to come to terms that their partying days are behind them breaks usual film narratives about new parents by showing that they actually did have lives prior to starting a family. On the other hand you have Teddy, who is struggling to accept the fact that he has to grow up and make decisions about his future. The extreme contrasts and similarities strike chords with the majority of the audience, not just teens. Yes, it may be ridiculous and juvenile at times but it never claims to be anything more, a dividing line between the extremities of youth culture and adulthood.
Falling somewhere along the lines of Project X and the gross out comedy of American Pie with a kind of bawdy stoner humour Jay and Silent Bob would be proud of (although i’m sure the two 70+ year old ladies in my screening were less impressed by frequent references to how ‘blessed’ Scoonie is in the trouser department), Bad Neighbours is a comedy with heart & a good nature but never takes itself too seriously to miss out on a whole load of dick jokes.