TL;DR – This is an interesting film however, it just does not work really well, it is not that the film does not bring up some interesting issues, it’s just that they are overwhelmed by a standard Seth Rogen comedy and everything that goes with that.
Score – 2 out of 5 stars
Review – So well, yer, this is quite a difficult film to review, because there are many things about Bad Neighbours 2 that are really interesting, and I really want to give the film props for talking about them. But, and trust me it is a big but, you have to wade through so much rubbish to get to those moments, and there are other films that do it better.
Bad Neighbours 2 tells the story of three interconnected groups, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner, a young family looking to sell their house to move into the suburbs. Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons) & Nora (Beanie Feldstein) a group of college students that discover that sororities can do absolutely nothing, so they start their own sorority to avoid dealing with fraternities, which just so happens to be next door to the Radners. Finally, you have Teddy (Zac ‘damn he be ripped’ Efron) who at the start of this film is kicked out of his friend Pete’s (Dave Franco) house after Pete gets engaged, and thus is trying to find himself. Of course, all this sounds like an interesting scenario, and if this was Bad Neighbours 1 then it would have been, but it also sound like a bad rehash of the first film, because let’s be honest, it totally is.
Ok as I said there are some really important themes being discussed in this film, which I do think could have made an interesting story, that does help the narrative, a bit (this is the part where I list some good things before I slam the film). There is a sort of blunt realness to parts of the film, parents trying to have ‘relations’ quietly because they don’t want to wake up a sleeping child, which is life for so many new parents. It also deals with the notion of watching everyone move ahead in their lives whilst you remain stationary, which is a really interesting area to explore. Finally, and I would say the most important issue, the film explores is the issue of the really crappy gender issues that appear in American Collages. In the opening introduction, you get the overview of what it is like to be a women in many if not most college campuses in the USA, trying to enjoy yourself in a world which promotes “No means Yes” and your only worth as a person is judged on if you put out or not. The girls wanting to escape that toxic environment gave them a really good motivation for wanting to maintain what they have, and this plays into the fact that the Radner’s are raising daughters, and what world do they want them to grow up in. This is a really important issue because it is something people experience every day, and it is really interesting watching Teddy realise just what an awful person he was when he led the fraternity, and I wish I could say more good things about it but, and as I said it is a big but.
The problem is that all of these really important issues are coating in Seth Rogen’s trademark comedic tone or excess. Now, this is not something that can be a movie killer, for example, the first film was ok, and The Interview shows that you can have Seth Rogen’s style of comedy and have it work with an important issue. However, here it just smothers the film, removing any of the impact these important issues could have had. Also, the whole dispute feels forced, the only reason the Radner’s and the sorority are fighting is because the movie wanted them to. It also glosses over the fact that most of the cast are committing felonies that would have led to long jail times. Now you might be saying, oh but that happens all the time in those films, and I would agree with you, but not for the fact that Teddy can’t get a job because he has a criminal record from the last film was a plot point. It is just such a wasted opportunity. All of this is weighed down by really bad Sequel-itus, we have been here before, we have seen this movie several times in the past. On top of this, the friends of the Radner’s fell superfluous and only there because they were in the first film, many of the running gags get boring quite quickly, indeed most of the ‘jokes’ get taken too far, not because they work within the context of the film but because they are trying to justify their American R-Rating, and there is no way many of the pranks in the film would have worked in real life.
In the end, can I recommend this film?, no, no I cannot, even though it is talking about some really important things. What I can do is recommend films that do this better, for example, Mad Max: Fury Road, or indeed Chefs Table on Netflix. Give this one a pass.
Directed by – Nicholas Stoller
Written by – Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Starring – Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo & Dave Franco
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14; Ireland: 16; NZ: M; UK: 15, USA: R