If you’re in the mood for a raucous, non-intellectual comedy with a lot of noise and mostly harmless violence, there’s a treat in store for you this weekend. Bad Neighbors, to be released in U.S. theatres on Friday 9 May as Neighbors, will fill that bill nicely. If you want subtle and nuanced, you may be disappointed – but you’ll probably be forced to laugh anyway, at least now and then.
Neighbors, in this case quintessentially bad, title or not, is about a young married couple with a new baby, making the adjustments that situation usually requires. They’ve got it going along OK until by some quirk of the zoning laws an entire frat house moves in next door. You have to accept a lot of anomalies in this one, like the fact that nobody else in the neighborhood seems to get involved, nor do the cops, in spite of the frat boys’ over-the-top antics and localized mass destruction.
The script, by relatively unknown writers Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, supposedly reflects true-life episodes and escapades recollected by the authors and some of the cast members, though it’s a little difficult to picture the average college frat boys exhibiting such ingenuity, not to mention the wide streak of sadism that appears to run in their collective natures. But oh, they do have a good time.
Not so the wannabe cool couple Mac and Kelly Radnor, admirably played by Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne, as they move from “Could you please keep it down?” to various stages of hysteria brought on by the riotous ‘fun’ being had by their neighbors-across-the-way. The feud escalates as the Radnors come up with various schemes to shut the frat house down and the frat hooligans retaliate with innovative and occasionally hilarious shenanigans.
Amongst the fraternity members are some almost believable and superbly comic characters like the ringleaders Teddy Sanders and Pete Regazolli, played by Zac Efron and Dave Franc. There are about 50 frat brothers – including one with the enviable name of Assjuice – whose goal is to get the name of Delta Psi in the Fraternity Hall of Fame by virtue of a major blast-off of a party.
They never quite make it, but not for lack of trying, and the interplay amongst Mac and Kelly and the Brothers has some almost poignant moments, along with some special effects worthy of Wile E. Coyote. The humor in Bad Neighbors is on the raunchy side and sort of jabs your funny bone rather than tickling it, but hey. This is not meant to be an uplifting film; it’s meant to entertain, and it does.