“Be a man and milk me,” Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) to husband Mac Radner (Seth Rogen)
Movie trailers can be a double-edged sword. If cut together correctly, they provide an enticing window to a coming attraction. However, what happens when all the best gags are already set out? BAD NEIGHBOURS suffers from such a syndrome. What is left, after the trailers, are a collection of second tier gross-out gags that occasionally raise a chuckle. Add an extra star for entertainment if you’ve not seen any advance clips.
BAD NEIGHBOURS deals with fear: When everything else is hunky-dory, the anxiety that you’re becoming middle-aged and boring. Mac and Kelly’s newborn daughter has laid waste to their sex and social lives. Hammering home fretfulness, and creating a new level of worry, is the moving in of a university fraternity, Delta Psi, next door.
Forget about zoning laws and that no other community member bats an eyelid at the instantaneous devaluing of their properties, this unlikely scenario provides the story impetus. At first getting along with the president Teddy Sanders (Zac Effron) and V-P Pete (Dave Franco), war between the households triggers when the cops are called by the Radners, on Delta Psi, for noise disturbance. An absence of societal justice from the authorities means it is a tit-for-tat revenge comedy, in attempts to drive one or the other out of the neighbourhood.
Pranks are enjoyably mean, especially when aimed at the middle-class, no longer youthful. Humiliation is the order of the day. However, BAD NEIGHBOURS never takes it to truly excruciating levels after the initial promise. Lacking imaginative ripostes, the Radner’s hit the fraternity in the wallet, and then go in for breaking up relationships. If they weren’t the ostensible heroes, one should surely question their tactics. Selfish, noisy inconsideration is seen as the worst crime. Home invasion on a decibel level is of course easy to empathise with. The movie though is reactionary in whom to root for: The home owning productive members of society of course. Little sympathy is carved out for the fratboys, even when some sentimental mush man-child issue is shoehorned in.
When you have characters named “Assjuice” (Craig Roberts) and fights involving dildos (admittedly funny), you can get an idea at the level of the humour. A cop-out of an ending cements the lack of commitment to a nutty comedy; contrast, Rogen’s own THIS IS THE END.
Wes Anderson packed more inventive retribution into RUSHMORE’s ‘A Quick One While He’s Away’ sequence (culminating in Max Fischer’s arrest), than most of BAD NEIGHBOURS.