The title is the first clue. Any film with a duh title like that is clearly the product of the Hollywood sausage machine, and Bad Neighbours is a classic example. The script seems to be written on autopilot, or on a software programme that probably looks like settings>frat boy comedy>couple of stars>condom gags>90 minutes. It’s predictable, utterly unfunny, full of tiresome knob and beer gabs and a total waste of the talent involved.
The setup is fair enough. A young couple, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, have a baby daughter and live a happy life in the suburbs, except for the usual problems – they are too tired for sex, and can’t go out with their pals anymore because of baby Stella. Then a fraternity move in next door, about 15 boys and girls from the local college headed by Zac Efron. They are clearly going to make noise and party all night, so Byrne and Rogen head over to make peace, and end up staying for the opening do. They make a pact, that the couple should call Efron first if there is a problem before the police.
Rogen appears to break the deal, and from then on it’s war. The frat boys have Robert de Niro parties, cover the couple’s lawn with litter and even leave a condom out for the baby to chew on. What is depressing here is not that the jokes are so predictable, it’s that they are delivered so half-heartedly. Rogen does his usual charming dope-smoking routine, but it’s wearing a bit thin, while Efron seems to have moved on little from his matinee-idol image – butall he does here is swig beer and party hard, but his budding bromance with Rogen has little spark.
Then we come on to Byrne. A line in the script explains her Australian accent, but even with that she still sounds totally confused about where she is supposed to come from. Her accent veers from posh English to California via Sydney, and at times she’s actually impossible to understand.
A brief clip is glimpsed of Steve Carell in the US Office, a reminder of how a skilful comedy can manage to be charming, sympathetic and silly at the same time, whereas here we have clumsy, predictable gags involving people you would run a mile from if you saw then on the street. Lisa Kudrow does her best to add some kookiness as the dean of the school that the frat boys attend, but by that point all is pretty much lost.
Overall verdict: Comedy-by-numbers involving talent who should all know better, with a limp script and little attention to detail. A poor effort all round.
Reviewer: Mike Martin