Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writers: Andrew J Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Cast: Seth Rogen, Rose Bryne, Zac Efron
“Infinite bj’s… they promised me infinite bj’s”
Over 6000 films into his career as Hollywood’s king of the stoner comedy and Seth Rogen stoically refuses to change even the slightest part of his routine but when its rolling in the mega-dollars why should he? Such familiarity should perhaps be viewed as an endearing quality of the man, especially considering he still gets the screen plays green lit, and he certainly manages pull in the punters despite largely repeating the exact same jokes and scenarios.
It’s easy to imagine Bad Neighbors starting out life as a sequel to Knocked Up, picking up immediately after the birth of the affable stoner’s baby, as he takes the next steps to adulthood by swapping the bong for the baby. Its no surprise that his well meaning attempts at growing up quickly go out the window when a Frat house moves in next door led by a complete dick played by Zach Efron.
Truly inspiring stuff.
Bad Neighbors has plenty of short comings, with most of them stemming from the poor casting.
Quite how Efron’s character is meant to bring humour to proceedings went completely over our heads but suspicions arise that comedy was not the main reason he was drafted in. Obsessed with his dream of becoming a frat boy legend, his main contribution seems to be strutting around with his top off like a moody bad ass. Despite all of the oddly pitched scenes where his intensely wired and needlessly aggressive character comes across as a slightly psychotic jock bully we are somehow expected to like him by the end.
Rose Bryne is likable enough as the other half in a double act with Rogen but she doesn’t really have a comedy bone in her body. Though it could be argued she is playing the straight role, for a comedy style based largely on semi-improvised back and forth banter, it means there are plenty of extended awkward scenes where Bryne is left looking to Rogen to do something comical to make it all worthwhile and he often doesn’t have enough.
East Bound and Down’s Ike Barinholtz steps into the role of the unhinged loose cannon usually played by Danny McBride but he isn’t given enough screen time or material to make the role anything special despite showing some promise, except that is for one moment of unexpected madness near the end.
Old faces from the usual crowd crop up here and there, like McLovin’ but with minimal screen time they are reduced to the cheapest of nob-gags and American Pie level humour.
The Rogan/Apatow comedies seem to have drifted into an annoying comfort zone, and safe comedy without the unexpected can be a very sedate affair. Typically the writers take a character led story played straight, and tell it through a cast of dysfunctional stoners. Throw in a couple of drug taking scenes and some add-libbing an you have your screen play.
Sticking to the limitations of this formula may role in the dollars and attract a wide demographic but it does not make for truly great comedy – just pleasantly watchable fodder. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach it is a shame to see an undoubtedly talented group of comedy actors and writers constraining themselves.
You can be sure to set your watches for the inevitable elder Rogen parenting a younger version of himself and doing a bad job of it.
With a better cast Bad Neighbours still wouldn’t have been the funniest of the Rogen and co comedies but as it is the bad casting forces too many unfunny actors into the main roles, resulting in flat laughs and even several moments of unbearable cringing. Overall its inoffensive enough to particularly dislike, and it’s probably worth a casual watch during a hangover.