Good performances and plenty of laughs make up for the occassional misstep
If you were to compile a list of potential neighbours-from-hell, an American fraternity would surely be right up there. Especially one whose all-night parties are ‘turned up to eleven’ as they seek to secure their place in hell-raiser history. That's the challenge facing thirty-something couple Kelly and Mac Radner (Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen) who are struggling to adjust to their socially restrictive life as new parents when chest-beating, beer-chugging frat-boys move their 'animal house' next door.
Led by Zac Efron's turbo-buff, glassy-eyed Teddy (who's joined by Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and our own Craig Roberts) the boys not only provide the expected earache but act as a taunting reminder of the hedonism the Radners have left behind. Alarmed by and in awe of their new neighbours, the couple's initial, embarrassing attempts at befriending them eventually give way to all out war.
It's a strong premise but Nicholas Stoller (The Five-Year Engagement, Get Him to the Greek) directs with an unsteady hand; his fourth feature lacks a sure, satisfying structure and often lurches from one event to the next as drunkenly as its characters. Yet the gags come thick and fast with only the occasional misstep. Efron may have finally found his calling as a sociopathic frat-boy and Rogen and Byrne make for an appealing couple, sharing ample comic chemistry. Refreshingly, they're shown as a true partnership – with Byrne getting an equal crack at the silliness – and Bad Neighbours deserves considerable kudos for taking aim at films which leave women tutting on the sideline (Kevin James and co, we're looking at you).
What makes Bad Neighbours particularly winning is that it's naughty and nice in near equal measure. This is a film that delivers all the big bad laughs you'd expect but it's sprinkled with surprising sweetness.
General release from Sat 3 May.