Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron & Chloe Grace Moretz
Film review by Alexander Halsall
Following the success of Bad Neighbours, which grossed $270 million worldwide on just an $18 million budget, a sequel was something of an inevitability. When a film performs so well at the box office, and is also as entertaining as Bad Neighbours managed to be, the only question would be could the cast and crew create a sequel of superior or equal quality?
We re-join Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), pregnant with their second child, a couple of years after the events of the first film. They have just agreed a deal to sell their house, under the obligation that the new buyers have a 30 day period to back out of the purchase should anything go array. At the same time Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and a group of her friends move into the house next door to form a hard-partying sorority, Kappa Nu. Things are complicated further when Teddy (Zac Efron), leader of the fraternity from the first film, returns to assist Shelby in forming a successful sorority as retribution for his past grievances with Mac and Kelly.
Whilst it is pleasant to see a film attempt to challenge the male-centric domination of certain establishments across the educational system, it is repeatedly brought up that fraternities are allowed to host parties whilst sororities cannot, the attempts to highlight sexism and prejudices within the collegial system are undermined by the limited scope of the movie. Bad Neighbours 2 can’t help but feel like a re-tread of the first film, only this time attempting to highlight certain unfair and unwarranted treatment that women can still face. This isn’t a negative but there isn’t enough new material to keep the action fresh. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are a pair of the most charming actors working today and I wish Byrne had been given more content with which to showcase her talents. As much as I enjoy Rogen’s energetic displays one of my favourite aspects of the first film was Byrne’s performance and I felt that with so many different characters now in the sequel she was given the short end of the stick whilst others got a more prominent focus. Zac Efron had something of a breakout role with the first film, establishing himself as a talented comedic actor, this time round having seen what he can do his performance is a little bit underwhelming though it may be that the material he is working with is somewhat limited.
Whilst the previous film felt very fluid this sequel feels like a series of sequences that were written first, with a connecting line constructed as an afterthought. The two writers from the previous feature (Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O’Brien) are again credited, but with three other writers also receiving credit (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & director Nicholas Stoller) which may explain the sense of un-coordination the movie has at times. The newcomers of the sorority are somewhat of a mixed bag humour wise. Moretz doesn’t really get much comedic material with her actions carrying the drama of the film, her constant battle to maintain a sorority without having to resort to conforming to male expectancy of what a sorority should be is admirable, but It would have been nice for her to have a few more comic moments that maybe defined her character a little more beyond her battle for individualism.
After all is said Bad Neighbours 2 has a few funny gags, and some charming characters, but is not as entertaining or prolific as its predecessor. As a passable 90 minute romp you could do worse, or if you haven’t seen the first Bad Neighbours just watch that instead as it’s a lot funnier.