You can just see the team behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall and This Is The End having a whale of a time sitting around (a studio boardroom? a swimming pool?) riffing on new ways to tap our filmgoing pockets.
Despite the regurgitation of cast members, and said actors more often than not seeming to merely play versions of themselves, the Apatow Gang (perhaps better-termed the Freaks Clique, after Judd Apatow’s seminal Freaks & Geeks TV show which launched a thousand comedic careers) has for over a decade been pretty reliable at producing highly entertaining, low concept stories of either white middle class family problems (Knocked Up and This Is 40) or white dumbass juvenile shenanigans (Superbad and Pineapple Express). Like benign Pied Pipers of drug-laced farce, they trill on the flute and audiences flock.
Like its predecessors, Bad Neighbours is firmly located in suburbia where Mac and Kelly (an adorably in love Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), young marrieds with a baby daughter on whom they dote, find they must strategise to make the fraternity house next door allies rather than enemies. What’s refreshing here is that this young couple are fun and still want to play, having not yet transformed into the whiny beleaguereds in This Is 40. Nonetheless monikered “that old couple next door” by the fraternity’s vice president (a confident turn from James Franco’s little brother, Dave), Mac and Kelly’s attempt at hip is the source of plenty of knowing laughs for the slightly older viewer as they seek to revive university experiences at a frat party, Mac chowing down magic mushrooms while Kelly grooves with the young bimbos, a baby monitor clutched to her ear.
A simple premise around noise control and the need for sleep manages, remarkably, to entertain for the duration, no doubt because the cast seem to be having such a great time. Source of Mac and Kelly’s woe is an admirably chiselled Zac Efron, the beguiling president of Delta Psi whose talent for throwing the Greatest Parties Ever makes up for his total lack of academic prowess. When the gloves come off, it’s Mr & Mrs against the Frats and hilarity frequently ensues (including one of the best sight gags seen in ages, so completely surprising you’ll splutter on your Coke – I’m still laughing days later).
Thanks to universally engaging performances (Byrne is allowed to use her native Aussie accent, softening her after those harsh roles in the likes of Bridesmaids and Damages) and many an in-joke for the DVD boxset generation, including a terrific dig at the younger crowd mixing up their Robert De Niro references, this neighbours-at-war story offers nothing particuarly new, clever or highbrow but simply delivers the sort of night out Delta Psi would want you to have.