Sunday, May 4, 2014

Milking Rose Byrne For Laughs: Bad Neighbors Fails Entirely!

The Good: One or two laughs, Convincing-enough performances
The Bad: Largely banal and repetitive humor, Dull plot, Obvious character arcs, More misses than hits on the jokes, No stellar performance moments.
The Basics: The Seth Rogen/Zac Efron vehicle Bad Neighbors is a listless comedy not worth wasting time and money to watch.

As Summer Blockbuster Season begins, the popular alternative to special effects-driven action films is raucous comedies. This summer, the search for quality alternative programming seems to have skipped the entire comedy genre . . . at least if the new film Bad Neighbors is any indication.

Bad Neighbors is a Seth Rogen and Zac Efron vehicle that has a ridiculously simple premise that it barely delivers on. The movie never truly gets deeper than the one-line summary for the film and the result is a movie packed with jokes that barely pad the flick up to 96 minutes and leave the viewer feeling largely cheated for the entire running time. Bad Neighbors has a thirty-something couple with a newborn baby living next door to a fraternity house and the two houses go to war over their different lifestyles. Only, the family being terrorized by having the frat house next door, the Radners, is barely more mature than their tormentors next door. The result is an extended prank movie that is hardly original, not at all audacious, and only minimally funny.

Mac and Kelly Radner have poured all their money into a small house in the suburbs where they believe they can happily and safely raise their new daughter, Stella. After attempting to christen their dining room – but failing because they are creeped out by Stella watching them have sex – the Radners see that the house next to theirs is on the market and has some (apparently) serious potential buyers. But when moving day comes, the quiet gay family they think is going to move in is replaced by a small fraternity from the nearby college. Bringing their leaders, Teddy and Pete, a joint, the Radners think they have solved their problems by asking the frat brothers to keep the volume down. That night, though, there is a loud party and rather than keeping the neighborhood quiet, Mac and Kelly actually join Teddy, Pete, and the frat brothers of Delta Psi Beta for a night of revelry.

When the loud scene repeats itself the next night and Teddy does not answer his phone (as he had asked the Radners to call him before they call the police), the young parents try to get the frat party shut down with police intervention. The Delta Psi Betas trash the lawn for the Radner’s house and vow to keep disrupting their lives for being so uncool to them. When Mac smashes a pipe that floods the frat house basement, the fraternity brothers band together and make molds of their penises in order to make dildos, which they then sell and raise so much money they are able to afford a pool in addition to the repairs! When the Radner’s confront the Dean after Stella nearly swallows a condom on their lawn, they find the college officials largely unhelpful, though she details the school’s three-strike rule for the frats. To try to get the frat shut down, Kelly tries to get Pete to put “hoes before bros” by getting the drunk (but smartest of the) frat boy to have sex with Teddy’s girlfriend. Using a hazed-upon pledge to infiltrate the house to try to get the last strike, Mac and Kelly bond as the fraternity comes apart at the seams!

There is so little to Bad Neighbors that it is almost surprising that the film was even made. To flesh out the thin revenge plot that has two groups of shockingly immature people going to war with one another (without much in the way of real world consequences, despite such things as fireworks getting shot into a police car, yet not burning the hell out of the officer inside), Bad Neighbors includes scenes like Kelly realizing she had too much alcohol to nurse and Mac having to milk her in order to relieve the pain in her breasts. Even that scene, though, is truncated in an odd way for an R-rated comedy, making one assume that there will be an unrated director’s cut released on DVD that is even more graphic than the theatrical release was.

The characters in Bad Neighbors are universally foul-mouthed and largely monolithic. Mac is hardly mature and the Radner’s obsession with weed and sex mirrors the frat boys’ binge drinking and casual sex. Neither group is particularly compelling to watch and outside the joy of the cameos (the young men of Workaholics, Andy Samburg, and Lisa Kudrow all have brief appearances in Bad Neighbors) the only real strong moment of comedy is the first appearance of a detached airbag going off and flinging Mac a great distance.

Bad Neighbors is not going to be the shining point of any of the participant’s resumes. Seth Rogen is playing a remarkably familiar stoner/slacker character that he has done to death and Dave Franco’s part of Pete is basically a slightly smarter version of his brother’s type familiar party animal character. Rose Byrne and Zac Efron do not show off any skills that they are likely to be proud of. In fact, Efron’s role in the movie seems to be to show off his new, buff self as opposed to creating a character with even a modicum of pathos, as he did in 17 Again (reviewed here!).

With its lack of original humor or engaging characters and hampered by a predictable plot and juvenile gags, Bad Neighbors completely fails to entertain or create a film worth writing more about.

For other works with Rose Byrne, be sure to check out my takes on:
This Is Where I Leave You
X-Men: First Class
28 Weeks Later
Marie Antoinette
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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