Taking into account their shared sensibilities, it’s a wonder that they’ve taken this long to join forces, Stoller’s writing credits on the short-lived US series Undeclared their only previous collaboration. Their best work has offset a fratboy crudeness with a touching sweetness and Bad Neighbours amplifies both by adding actual fratboys and the world’s cutest baby. Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly, young parents whose partying and sex life has taken a hit with the arrival of their baby. This is further compounded when a frat house moves in next door. The couple are desperate to appear cool to their new neighbours but also keen to nip excessive partying in the bud, leading to a hilarious introduction to Frat president Teddy (Zac Efron) and his number two Pete (the wonderfully funny Dave Franco).
Mac and Kelly are welcomed with open arms (and a lot of illegal substances) and a wonderful friendship is born. Temporarily. It’s not long before the partying gets out of hand and the neighbours end up at war when Mac calls the cops on Teddy and his boys. The ensuing pranks range from juvenile to vindictive, escalating in severity and hilariousness in equal measures. The only shame is that a masterstroke involving airbags is in the trailer, lessening its impact. It would have been better left a total surprise.
Rogen and Efron are undoubtedly the star billings here and neither disappoints. Rogen is as fuzzy and befuddled as ever while Efron shows a game willingness to laugh at himself and his chiseled abs. However, both are upstaged by their supposed sidekicks. Byrne is possibly the funniest out of the entire cast, given a rare chance to cut loose, rather than the straight woman she played for most of Bridesmaids. Her endearing goofiness works perfectly in tandem with Rogen’s, making her easily the most believable of the beautiful women he’s been paired with over the years. Their chemistry grounds all the insanity in something like reality and a relationship that is both convincing and likeable. Dave Franco is a close second to Byrne, showing he’s every bit the match of his older brother when it comes to comedy and bouncing brilliantly of Efron. He also handles the few grave moments in the film really well, putting the romance into bromance in one genuinely touching scene.
All in all, Bad Neighbours is so likeable a film that it would seem churlish to look for whatever small faults that aren’t immediately obvious. It’s as charmingly crude as fratboy comedies get, to the point that, even with the presence of frat boys, that term does it a disservice. It looks set to join the likes of Bridesmaids and Knocked Up in the pantheon of universally adored comedies. And that truly is one unbelievably cute baby!