12 May 2014

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours


Like you, I couldn’t care less whether my neighbours lived or died. Obviously I’m not a psychopath so I’d prefer for them to remain in some state of happy consciousness but in honesty, they have so little impact on my life that I can’t see how their survival is my problem. I’m sure that makes me sound like a dick but if I were you, I’d look more towards the bigger picture to see how capitalism and social networking have pushed us towards a selfish society that’s smothered by a sense of isolation… That and during my youth if I accidentally kicked a ball over the fence then some of them would be cocks about giving it back, so fuck them. On my list of priorities, I’d say that my neighbour's ability to remain alive is somewhere above me remembering to put the bin out this week but definitely below getting around to finally watching The Wire. There’s a family that lives next door to me that I honestly don’t think I’ve seen in months. Maybe by chance we’ve just managed to avoid each other or maybe they’re rotten corpses are lying on the other side of my wall having chocked to death in a ritualistic orgy of drugs and bestiality. Either way they’re keeping the noise down so I’ll leave them to it.   

Taxi Driver 2: Son of a Bickle
Anyway so all of this brings me to the latest film that I saw at the cinema which happens to have been Seth Rogen’s Bad Neighbours. Apparently it’s called Neighbours in other countries but they changed the name here because they worried we’d confuse it with that shit Australian soap of the same name. If that’s true then cheers for having so little faith in our intelligence knobheads! Although having said that and to be fair you’re depressingly probably not wrong. I once heard a kid loudly ask if he was watching Spider-man 2 about an hour into a screening of Fantastic Four 2: Rise of The Silver Surfer so I guess you really can’t underestimate the public's stupidity at times. Not only that but to have heard that simple little brat ask its ridiculous question I guess that must also mean that I’d paid to see Fantastic Four 2 too… so I guess neither of us where wearing our thinking caps that day. Anyway yeah… So I saw Bad Neighbours which basically tells the story of a young family who have their peace shattered when the place next door to them becomes a fraternity house. Despite an initial bonding session things quickly turn sour and the two neighbours end up in a prank war. Well fuck me sideways if that’s not a set-up for a comedy then I don’t know what is!

I’d like to say at this point that I love seeing films that are new to me and so even if I didn’t particularly like something that’s not to say I can’t appreciate the experience of having seen it. With that in mind it brings me no pleasure to have to report that in my humble opinion Bad Neighbours was a little bit shit. I mean it’s not awful and is nowhere near as bad as the Jack and Jill style of comedic diarrhoea that Adam Sandler has been pumping out for the majority of his career. But I’m a fan of Seth Rogen and compared to some of his films like SuperBad and Pineapple Express for me this really doesn’t compete. I think there are four main reasons for this which are its lack of heart, the lack of discipline, the lack of surprises and the fact that all the female characters mostly have to do is have nice tits. Although to be fair with the exception of those that have milk shooting out of them or a baby clamped on the women did have some nice tits.

So to start with the lack of discipline I think this comes down to the script and how there doesn’t seem to fucking be one. Rogen’s comedies often have an improvised feel to them which is fine but that still requires something more technical than sticking people together getting them to chat shit and then hoping for the best. There are conversations here in which the bollocks spews from characters mouths and although it teases the potential of humour it generally ends up going on for way too long. The cast of This is Spinal Tap tend to improvise their comedies but you can still tell that the material has been trailed and scrutinised beforehand. The Office too feels improvised although according to interviews I hear that the naturalistic dialogue and performances were simply the result of Gervais and Merchants really well written scripts. My point is that I’m not simply bitching that Bad Neighbours doesn’t sound like it was written by the bastard off-spring of Shane Black and Oscar Wilde but rather that it simply could have done with a little more self-control.

As for the lack of heart… well this ironically might have helped me get over that previous issue. As I mentioned before I do really like Super Bad and Pineapple Express however they clearly also place the same level of importance on their scripts as Mel Gibson does on not being a mental racist. Despite their obvious indulgences though the one thing that they have to hook me in is likeable characters and slightly touching relationships. Whether it be Jonah Hill and Michael Cera or Seth Rogen and James Franco, I’m kind of a sucker for films that depict the sweetness of two friends strengthening their bond. I think films about male friendship are to me what rom-coms are to lonely women who spend their nights crying fat tears of regret into a tasty tub of ice-cream. In Bad Neighbours however there are I suppose three main relationships… there’s the one between Rogen and his wife Rose Byrne, Rogen and his neighbour Zac Efron and another between Efron and mate Dave Franco. Out of all of those though the only one that comes close to being either interesting or memorable is the one between Rogen and Efron as the film hints towards a kind of big brother/little brother thing between the two. In fact for me the highlight of the movie was their drunken bonding session in which they ate magic mushrooms, got wankered, argued about who made the best Batman and then had a swordfight with their piss. Sadly though this only lasts like one scene before the two are pitted against each other and the film descends into dull, slapstick bollocks.

Rogen is a family man whose jealous of Efrons freedom and Efron is a dick because he’s worried about his future. If there’s one thing I like more than male bonding it’s a film in which the message seems to be that no matter who or how old you are life will always be shite. Both this idea and their relationship are in my opinion two really great starting points for a film. However like I say the slapstick takes precedence over this which would be fine if it wasn’t for one thing… They fucking ruined it for us before we even started watching the fucking movie. Yes I like films about both relationships and nihilism but as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin have proven there’s still an art to getting a laugh from having somebody get accidentally twat in the head. However the one thing that this therefore requires is the element of surprise. If I’m going to be honest this probably isn’t the kind of film I’d go out of my way to see but I’d seen basically everything out right now and me and my friends needed something to do for the day. My point is that before seeing this film I had about as much interest in Bad Neighbours as the film had for using it’s script for anything more than a shitrag.

However because I’d seen so many other films recently I’d been forced to see the trailer for this film so many times that I already knew most of the fucking jokes. Did I laugh at the stuff with the airbags or the baby eating a condom? Well yeah… I tittered about a month ago when I saw it out of context in the trailer but not now. If I was seeing it fresh then I’m sure the panic in a parents face as they spot their offspring cheerfully chowing down on what looks like a rubber jizz bag would be hilarious. So I guess my advice would be that if the plot is going to waffle and the dialogue is indulgently long then don’t stick all the fucking slapstick jokes in the trailer as that’s literally all there is left to enjoy. It’s like a porn film trying to sell itself by sticking all of the nudity in the trailer when the rest of the film consists of a fully clothed woman chatting to some bloke about the broken boiler. Sorry love but I’ve already seen your flange and I spaffed about two minutes ago. To conclude… if you’ve seen this films trailer then you’ve seen this film.

Today's spot the difference competition! Write in when you find them all!
Anyway like I said Bad Neighbours is a bit shit but it's not awful however I still kind of felt like I needed a quick reminder of why I like Seth Rogen. I'm pretty sure that there's one film in his entire back catalogue that has a great script and yet still feels naturalistic and even features male bonding. For anybody that felt the same amount of disappointment that I did during this film then I really strongly recommend that you go back to his genuinely brilliant cancer comedy 50/50. Admittedly that film also suffers from a lack of meaningful female characters but I guess misogyny must just be part of their style. In 50/50 the main characters girlfriend does nothing but act like a bitch and yet here too Rogen's wife and ironically his young daughter constantly find themselves getting lost amongst the chaos. In fact there's one scene in this film in which the young couple break up for no real reason with the event being about as emotional as having a drunken piss against a bus stop. Not only that but they only stay split up for about a second before they randomly get back together and it's as though nothing ever happened. That's probably the main problem with Bad Neighbours really it's just a bunch of stuff that happens to tie together a bunch of predictable, slapstick moments and then it's over. To be fair though... You could say the same about life. Bye, bye. 

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