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New Release Review - Bad Neighbours (aka Neighbors)

A thirtysomething couple's dream home becomes a nightmare when a fraternity moves in next door.

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lisa Kudrow, Halston Sage




Parents to an infant girl, Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) move into their new home in what seems to be an idyllic neighbourhood. Their tranquility is soon broken when the unoccupied house next door becomes home to Alpha Psi Beta, a raucous fraternity form the local University. Initial attempts to befriend fraternity leader Teddy (Efron) prove futile when he repeatedly shows no regard for his neighbors. Determined to restore peace and quiet, Mac and Kelly begin devising schemes to rid the neighbourhood of Teddy and his frat brothers.
Released Stateside as Neighbors, Nicholas Stoller's film has been retitled Bad Neighbours elsewhere, presumably to avoid confusion with the long running Aussie soap opera. The retitling makes the film sound a lot more dumb than it actually is, as Stoller and writers Andrew J Cohen and Brendan O'Brien have delivered a clever postmodern take on the frathouse genre.
Some of the worst movies of recent years have been based around the fratboy mentality. Think of the loathsome characters of Project X, 21 & Over and the Efron starring That Awkward Moment. Those movies asked audiences to side with their sociopathic young males, something no viewer with a shred of decency could bring themselves to do. Here, the fratboys are painted for the moronic villains they should be. That said, the members of this particular fraternity are like choirboys compared to the characters in the aforementioned films.
While the fratboys are posited as the villains of the piece, the film has plenty of fun with sly digs at its liberal white middle class "heroes". Mac and Kelly are seen getting excited at the prospect of "the dream" when they spot a biracial gay couple inspecting the property next door, and there are lots of little digs at the boxset culture of today's middle class thirtysomethings. If you ever visited the now defunct website stuffwhitepeoplelike.com you'll recognise Mac and Kelly immediately.
Though it's got plenty of laughs, like all too many contemporary comedies, Bad Neighbours suffers from a lack of anything resembling a story the viewer can get invested in. Instead we get an episodic affair that feels more like three consecutive episodes of a sitcom rather than a standalone movie. 
6/10


Eric Hillis

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