Skip to main content

My parents love each other, and I think it's hilarious.

Bad Neighbours 
(aka Neighbors)
(2014)

The mystifying career of Seth Rogen continues its ascendency. I’d suggest he had honed playing a boorish oaf to the point of perfection, but since he is a boorish oaf there’s no real effort involved. Most mystifying of the many mystifying aspects of Bad Neighbours (Neighbors in the US, perhaps because all Neighbours are bad there, so they didn’t need to qualify the title, or because they actually thought UK and Australian viewers might think this was the big screen version of the soap, the same way Avengers Assemble might have been otherwise mistaken for the return of John Steed and Mrs Peel) is the notion that Rogen could possibly be married to Rose Byrne.


Of course, Rogen has history with impossibly out-of-his-league co-stars (Katherine Heigl), and, to be fair to him, he isn’t shy about putting his unenviable body out there as an object of ridicule. I wish he was. Unattractive bodies are usually only funny if the wearer of said unattractive body is funny. Rogen’s perpetual humour operandi is to make unfunny jokes about bodily functions, mostly his cock, or someone else’s cock, homophobic or sexist remarks that he thinks are okay because he’s kind-of sort-of self-aware, and, most of all, weed. Did you know he loves it? Really, really loves it? This may be why his quality control is negligible. Everything is so much funnier when you’re stoned, you see.


Rogen’s best bud (not in a gay way, though), the ubiquitous James Franco doesn’t appear this time out. Instead, Rogen has to do for James’ creepy younger brother Dave. He’s Pete, vice-president of Delta Psi Beta, a college fraternity that moves in next door to Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne). Pete can summon an instant erection as a party trick. President of the fraternity is Teddy (Zac Effron, who might have been down the gym a bit before making the movie. I’m not quite sure). Having a baby and a job, and needing to sleep to boot, Mac and Kelly understandably are none-too chuffed at the all-night parties that ensue, so call the police when Teddy fails to keep the noise down. Which results in all-out war being waged.


Under normal circumstances there would be no question that sympathies lie with the married couple, but normal circumstances wouldn’t include schlubby Rogen. Seth reminds us straight away what a fantastic comedian he is by launching into a litany of improvised yuks that include Batman impressions, peeing with Effron, lying naked on top of Byrne, and generally being objectionably coarse and uncouth. One can only assume Byrne is a trooper to put up with all this, a predominately male set with no end of laddish antics. On the other hand, she’s Australian so she probably fitted right in. 


So it’s a close thing, but these frat kids are still a bunch of unholy shits (as is evidenced by their treatment of one of their least cool and therfore most-abused members, nicknamed Assjuice). When war escalates, Mac floods their basement and Kelly (in one of the few sequences that is actually smartly conceived) induces Pete to cop off with Teddy’s girlfriend. The fraternity retaliate by placing car airbags around the house, in places an unsuspecting baby might well rest for a moment. The frat boys aren’t the most irresponsible kids on the block, however, as Mac and Kelly are the kind of parents who leave their baby alone in the house all night (baby monitor or no). This might be a blessing, as any baby that doesn’t have to grow up being gurned and hucked at by Rogen is a fortunate baby.


This being a post-Apatow comedy of the gross-out oeuvre, and consequently boundary pushing in the most tiresome ways (which roughly means, the more outrageous it is, the funnier it is), there are no end of penis and bodily function gags. The guys all make dildos and sell them for big bucks! Rogen and Effron have a fight with them! The baby nearly eats a condom and then the doctor at the hospital jokes, “Your baby has HIV!” (I know, right, because only squares wouldn’t find that a hoot). Christopher Mintz-Plasse (he had to turn up, didn’t he?) has a extremely long penis, which Carlo Gallo wears as a necklace. Absolutely priceless! An extended scene involving Mac milking Kelly features the odd mildly funny line, but wears the patience by going on for way too long.


On the plus side, Lisa Kudrow consistently raises the laugh bar in her cameo as the dean of the university, Byrne should do more comedy, and Hannibal Buress gets to indulge a string of Garfield jokes (“I hate Monday. I love lasagne”) as Officer Watkins and there’s a Six Million Dollar Man sound effect. Director Nicholas Stoller’s career actually seems on the descendent quality-wise (no mean feat since he wrote Gulliver’s Travels) and hitching himself to Rogen’s train does him absolutely no favours. Despite Bad Neighbours featuring no likeable characters it somehow manages to conclude with everyone becoming best of pals. They all mean well really. This is sloppy, coarse and moronic. The usual Seth Rogen movie, basically.





Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989) (SPOILERS) There’s Jaws , there’s Star Wars , and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws ’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy , to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “ more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie ”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “ mainly boring ”. Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the

You think a monkey knows he’s sitting on top of a rocket that might explode?

The Right Stuff (1983) (SPOILERS) While it certainly more than fulfils the function of a NASA-propaganda picture – as in, it affirms the legitimacy of their activities – The Right Stuff escapes the designation of rote testament reserved for Ron Howard’s later Apollo 13 . Partly because it has such a distinctive personality and attitude. Partly too because of the way it has found its through line, which isn’t so much the “wow” of the Space Race and those picked to be a part of it as it is the personification of that titular quality in someone who wasn’t even in the Mercury programme: Chuck Yaeger (Sam Shephard). I was captivated by The Right Stuff when I first saw it, and even now, with the benefit of knowing-NASA-better – not that the movie is exactly extolling its virtues from the rooftops anyway – I consider it something of a masterpiece, an interrogation of legends that both builds them and tears them down. The latter aspect doubtless not NASA approved.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

He doesn’t want to lead you. He just wants you to follow.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) (SPOILERS) The general failing of the prequel concept is a fairly self-evident one; it’s spurred by the desire to cash in, rather than to tell a story. This is why so few prequels, in any form, are worth the viewer/reader/listener’s time, in and of themselves. At best, they tend to be something of a well-rehearsed fait accompli. In the movie medium, even when there is material that withstands closer inspection (the Star Wars prequels; The Hobbit , if you like), the execution ends up botched. With Fantastic Beasts , there was never a whiff of such lofty purpose, and each subsequent sequel to the first prequel has succeeded only in drawing attention to its prosaic function: keeping franchise flag flying, even at half-mast. Hence Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore , belatedly arriving after twice the envisaged gap between instalments and course-correcting none of the problems present in The Crimes of Grindelwald .

So, you’re telling me that NASA is going to kill the President of the United States with an earthquake?

Conspiracy Theory (1997) (SPOILERS) Mel Gibson’s official rehabilitation occurred with the announcement of 2016’s Oscar nominations, when Hacksaw Ridge garnered six nods, including Mel as director. Obviously, many refuse to be persuaded that there’s any legitimate atonement for the things someone says. They probably weren’t even convinced by Mel’s appearance in Daddy’s Home 2 , an act of abject obeisance if ever there was one. In other circles, though, Gibbo, or Mad Mel, is venerated as a saviour unsullied by the depraved Hollywood machine, one of the brave few who would not allow them to take his freedom. Or at least, his values. Of course, that’s frequently based on alleged comments he made, ones it’s highly likely he didn’t. But doesn’t that rather appeal to the premise of his 23-year-old star vehicle Conspiracy Theory , in which “ A good conspiracy theory is an unproveable one ”?

You’d be surprised how many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness exist.

Moon Knight (2022) (SPOILERS) Now, this is an interesting one. Not because it’s very good – Phase IV MCU? Hah! – but because it presents its angle on the “superhero” ethos in an almost entirely unexpurgated, unsoftened way. Here is a character explicitly formed through the procedures utilised by trauma-based mind control, who has developed alters – of which he has been, and some of which he remains, unaware – and undergone training/employment in the military and private mercenary sectors (common for MKUltra candidates, per Dave McGowan’s Programmed to Kill ). And then, he’s possessed by what he believes to be a god in order to carry out acts of extreme violence. So just the sort of thing that’s good, family, DisneyPlus+ viewing.