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Bad Neighbours

R16: contains drug use, sex scenes, and offensive language

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this movie.

Bad Neighbours poster

Date registered: 23/04/2014

About the film

Bad Neighbours is a comedy about a young couple, Mac and Kelly, whose quiet suburban life is disrupted when a fraternity moves in next door.

Mac and Kelly initially try to befriend the fraternity members, but a rift forms after they call the police on them during a noisy party. From then on the relationship between the neighbours is marred, leading to tit for tat reprisals that spiral out of control.

A still image from the film - fraternity leader Teddy minds the barbecue at their house party

Classification criteria: Sex

The film contains several sex scenes that are both candid and realistically simulated, as well as numerous crass verbal references to sex.

A still image from the film - guests cavorting in the pool at the massive frat house party

Classification criteria: Violence

The publication deals with cruelty and violence, but does so in a limited manner. There is some implicit cruelty in the way young pledges are treated, or "hazed".

A still image from the film - Teddy hazing the new pledges

Classification criteria: Crime

Under s3(3)(d) the publication promotes and encourages drug use to a limited degree. There are numerous depictions of people enjoying marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms recreationally. Overall drug use in the feature is treated somewhat humorously, but also blithely and in a manner that suggests drug taking is a normal part of these characters' everyday lives. However, within this context it is also presented as clearly illegal and those under the influence of drugs are presented as humorously foolish.

There are also depictions of other crimes such as vandalism and property damage which occurs during the escalating war between the neighbours. There are no legal consequences to these actions.

A still image from the film - Teddy and friends at the front door, beer in hand

Classification criteria: Highly offensive language

The feature contains frequent use of highly offensive language. Although in the context of a teen comedy, it is used to reference sex and to insult, and therefore the language would be highly offensive to the public in general, and may result in serious harms such as alienation or intimidation if emulated by young impressionable viewers.

A still image from the film - Teddy and Mac greeting shoppers at Abercrombie & Fitch

Decision summary

The unrestricted availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good. Sex in the film is pitched at a mature level that would be inappropriate for young viewers. Society in general perceives an injury in children and young teens being exposed to adult sexual behaviour before they are developmentally ready.

The film also presents drug use as a mainly positive activity, ignoring any health or legal consequences; older teens and adults are more able to view the drug use as a function of comedy and the characters' lifestyles, appropriately contextualising it within an "edgy" comedy intended for mature audiences. The widespread use of highly offensive language and the nature of its use reinforces the need for a restriction.

Bad Neighbours is therefore classified as objectionable unless restricted to persons 16 years and over. A limit on its availability is a reasonable and demonstrably justifiable restriction under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and is the lowest possible restriction in order to prevent likely injury to the public good.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R16 label
R16: contains drug use, sex scenes, and offensive language