Bad Neighbours (or simply Neighbors if you’re of an American persuasion) is the latest Seth Rogen vehicle that in some ways is a spiritual sequel to Knocked Up in the sense that it sees his character coming to terms with the reality he is no longer young enough or irresponsible enough to be invited to the wildest parties.
In the film his character, Mac has a wife, Kelly (Rose Byrne), and a baby daughter Stella. The start of the film sees them having to cope with the realities of being young parents, such as not being able to drop everything to go out with their friends. However, these issues are brought all the more to the fore when a fraternity house moves in next door. Led by Teddy (Zac Effron) and Pete (Dave Franco), things quickly turn sour between the two households as the students want to party, and the family want a decent night’s sleep.
In comedy terms I felt the paths tread by Bad Neighbors have already been well worn by Rogen’s previous films. For example, I had a little bet with myself as to how long it would be before Rogen smoked pot and then did something funny (it’s about three minutes if you’re interested), and as is to be expected there’s lots of jokes centred on stupid things people do while high, drunk, or tripping.
Where the film attempts to break new ground is in its portrayal of a young couple coming to terms with the stage they’ve reached in life. As with all of Rogen’s films there’s a soft centre hiding beneath the raucous outer shell. Therefore most of the film’s best moments centre on the joys Mac and Kelly get from Game of Thrones or having pizza in bed.
The characters in the film also manage to avoid the stereotypes they seem to be fitting into when we meet them. So, unlike in most of these comedies, Kelly is every bit as up for mischievous revenge as Mac. Likewise, frat boys Teddy and Pete are given depth as they come to terms with the reality of graduating university and having to think about what they actually want to do with their lives.
Bad Neighbours then is not a terrible film, but it isn’t a classic either. There are funnier, more original films, and although the characters do have depth, it’s the minimum I’d expect for a more serious film dealing with similar themes. A film that meets your expectations without surpassing them.