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New Release Review - BAD NEIGHBOURS 2

A young couple go to war with the sorority house next door.





Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Selena Gomez, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow, LL Cool J



Bad Neighbours 2 is so commendably progressive in its outlook, a feature notably lacking from most mainstream Hollywood comedies, that it goes some way to brushing over its reliance on lowest common denominator comedy. Its mind may be in the gutter, but its heart is in the right place.



The opening scene of Bad Neighbours 2 (aka Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising; the UK distributor still convinced audiences will confuse it for a big screen adaptation of a certain Aussie soap) features the nascent franchise's married couple, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne), in the act of some very unsexy lovemaking. The scene culminates with the pregnant Kelly vomiting on her husband's face. This is followed by a sketch in which their toddler daughter plays with Kelly's dildo, a recurring gag we're subjected to throughout the film. Early on it seems like Nicholas Stoller's sequel is going to prove quite the endurance test for anyone not enamoured with such toilet humour.


But then the movie takes a curious turn, reintroducing us to Zac Efron's Teddy and Dave Franco's Pete, the frat boy antagonists of the first movie, now finished with their 'studies' and living together. Their cosy arrangement is disrupted when Pete agrees to his boyfriend's marriage proposal (the gathered friends break into a chant of "USA, USA" in celebration of their country's recent decision to allow gay marriage across the board) and Teddy is forced to seek new accommodation.

Meanwhile, college freshers Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) attend a fraternity party from hell, complete with 'No means Yes' banners, and decide they'd quite like a place to party without being raped by spotty teenage boys. As luck would have it, the house next door to the Radners is on the market, but how can they can afford it? Step in Teddy to help the girls achieve their dream and get his revenge on the Radners.


Bad Neighbours 2 is so commendably progressive in its outlook, a feature notably lacking from most mainstream Hollywood comedies, that it goes some way to brushing over its reliance on lowest common denominator comedy. Its mind may be in the gutter, but its heart is in the right place. However, while it introduces some interesting liberal themes, it declines to follow through with them. There are early gags about Beth and Nora being socially shunned because the former is black and the latter overweight, but neither of the girls gets a moment of redemption. Not only is this a disappointment, it's simply bad storytelling.


Zac Efron is the film's secret weapon, and he mounts one hell of a charm offensive here as the idiotic but ultimately loveable Teddy. The actor seems to have become a victim of the silly notion that good looking people can't act. A popular myth also exists that attractive folk aren't funny, but Efron displays far more comedic talent here than his more acknowledged co-star Seth Rogen, whose schtick increasingly seems to be based around the fact that he likes to get stoned. Having endured his back catalogue, I'd quite like to stone him myself.
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