Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) have just moved to suburbia in order to raise their newborn daughter. Just as they come to terms with their choices and the fact that they have got that little bit older, a Frat House from the local university moves in next door to them. Faced with the prospect of loud parties and obnoxious neighbours, Mac and Kelly go and introduce themselves to the Head of the Frat, Teddy (Zac Efron) in the hopes of forming a good relationship with their new neighbours. It is not long, however, before both sides realise that their differences mean this is war.
Since he burst onto our screens as part of High School Musical, it seems that Zac Efron has been trying to distance himself from the role that made him famous, probably for the sake of having a diverse career, and doing something that challenges him. That’s all well and good, but Bad Neighbours sees Efron return to a more high energy role, and seemingly, have fun on screen for the first time in a number of years.
Seth Rogen plays the typical Seth Rogen character that we have come to know, only this time the character is planted in suburbia, only smoking a little pot and wondering when life became so serious. Rose Byrne plays Kelly as a sweet woman who, like her husband, is wondering where her carefree days have gone. Zac Efron plays Teddy as a guy so focused on the fun aspect of college that he seems unaware of life outside of the academic system that supports him. It is clear that Teddy is a clever guy – the pranks and parties he comes up with are spectacular – but he seems more focused on the now to realise there is more to life than partying.
The rest of the cast is made up of Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Craig Roberts as members of the Frat, and Carla Gallo and The Mindy Project’s Ike Barinholtz as Mac and Kelly’s recently divorced friends. There is some lovely banter between Barinholtz and Rogen, which proves that Barinholtz is destined for more than TV.
The story, to be honest, is rather predictable but that said, there are some pretty good laughs along the way, mostly courtesy of Efron and Rogen playing off one another, Efron embracing the more ‘evil’ side of his character and some seriously inventive pranks. The trouble arises when director Nicholas Stoller allows the actors to ad-lib and improv their lines, which means that scenes not only go on too long, but some of them feel forced and irritating. It is clear that some reaching is going on at times, and this means that the jokes don’t always land.
In all, Bad Neighbours is a decent, if predictable, comedy. Rogen does what he always does, Byrne narrowly avoids being a harpy, Efron obviously enjoys being bad for once and Barinholtz definitely holds his own on the big screen. Problems arise from ad-libs and an over reliance on vulgar jokes, but Bad Neighbours – for the most part – is a damn fine comedy.