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So ‘Neighbors’, renamed ‘Bad Neighbors’ in European and Australian territories so not to clash with the soap opera, presumably for when punters search on goggle for the reviews. They were right. It became the fourth largest R-rated comedy in cinema history after its opening weekend total of $49 million but certainly not the fourth best comedy in history, far from it, bringing in $267 million to date. It made back its $18 million budget by the first day. That’s the sort of number that makes studio executives very happy. That’s the sort of numbers you get by casting Zac Efron. The always irritating and loud stubble-nuts that is the bubble permed Seth Rogen may think the numbers were down to him but not this time. Although not the sequel to Knocked Up it certainly feels like it as Rogen and co-star Rose Byrne send up those responsibility issues around having babies and who gets to go out and who gets to stay in and look after that baby.
Young middle-class couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) have a new baby and getting used to the life of dirty nappies, sore nipple breast feeding and not going out anymore. But when Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and his rowdy college fraternity move in next door the couple are soon asking them to turn down the partying they so long to be at. The initial peace treaty of welcoming the couple into Teddys’ inner fraternity sanctum with some beer and pot as Mac and Kelly briefly relive their college days works at first but the noise soon waking baby and the trouble begins.
It starts well with solid and original writing and humorous scenes as the couple enjoy the cute baby with lots of in-jokes for young parents being chained to the house, especially dad, there coo-cooing to baby for no particular reason other than making sure the misses doesn’t feel jealous and annoyed if he does go out and enjoys himself. I don’t have babies but I guess that’s pretty much it for your social life if you do have them.
Once we get past cute baby stuff and well observed young couple dialogue the moronic side of Rogan takes over and its becomes the bog standard gross out humor American Pie in the face, which I have never really liked. I do think men have become more immature and guys the same age as Rogen no doubt went to see this movie to celebrate that fact by sniggering at knob and tits gags. Zac Efron, on the other hand, doesn’t work for me in this type of grown up comedy and the polar opposite of Rogen and so little chemistry going down on screen. Efron is shaking off his cutesy Disney kid with the films he picks now and already in the Jason Biggs zone. That can be tough one to get out of. Where is Jason ‘American Pie’ Biggs now you may ask?
Yes, girls, he does take his shirt off at least twice. Efron, that is, blatantly so at the end, no doubt written in the contract that he had to, reward for all the screaming teenagers who went to see this film expecting Animal House. To be fair Rose Byrne gets to play a surprisingly fleshed out and confident female character as Kelly Radnor and a rarity in comic film to be enjoyed but once Rogen is on screen with beer and bong it all becomes tedious and perfunctory for this genre. I suspect this is the Bridesmaids effect, that particular emancipated all female film the third highest comedy of all time and why most of those girls have been cast in the all-female new Ghostbusters movie.
On the whole Bad Neighbors has its funny bits but most of the jokes miss the sport because Seth Rogen simply distracts you from the decent quality of the writing with his slobish style. Once the boorish flabby oath starts adlibbing the film flattens out like a bottle of pop with no screw cap and your mind begins to drift to other things. This will definitely appeal to a certain audience but it’s successful simply because Zac Efron is in it and he doesn’t drop the ball. It’s a shame Seth Rogen isn’t in that North Korean jail right now because he really does annoy me.