Bad Neighbours 2 – Review

“BAD NEIGHBOURS 2”

Bad Neighbours 2, or alternatively, as it’s known in America Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising. The title has changed for International audiences in Europe and Australia to avoid confusion with the Australian soap of the same title, though how you would mix those two up is beyond my understanding. This film is the sequel to the surprise hit of 2014 with most of the team including Seth Rogan’s writing buddies and director Nicholas Stoller who is having a mixed time at best since the first film, having not directed any films, but was a screenplay writer on Zoolander 2, which I thought was a rather boring film and of course the infamously awful Sex Tape. Mind you he also had a writing credit on Muppets Most Wanted so what are you going to do.

Comedy sequels are traditionally quite poorly reviewed as they tend to recycle jokes from the previous one and then don’t tend to be as funny second time round. There are a few exceptions to the rule obviously, for example, I really enjoyed Ted 2 despite the fact that most of the critics bashed it last year, although going into this I was really hoping this wasn’t going to be another case of Hangover 2 where you literally take the first film and change up just one factor, which let’s face it, the trailers for this were not filling me with confidence. Prior to a couple of week ago I hadn’t even seen the first Bad Neighbours movie, I am not really a fan of Seth Rogen’s comedies, they never quite hit me that well and I went into it thinking I was not going to enjoy it that much, but you know what, it’s actually quite funny. There are some genuinely very funny moments and it mixes some good dialogue heavy humour, decent visual comedy and actually some decent slapstick. It would have been easy to make the original film a lowest common denominator comedy and I would be lying if I said there weren’t times when it hits that level, however it’s not that often and for the most part I found it quite funny and in some ways kind of charming. It’s not a great movie, the narrative is all over the place and some of the jokes go on for too long and as a result lose all the humour they could have had, for example, take the rose before hose joke! Nevertheless I asked people to vote between this and Florence Foster Jenkins and people voted for this one so I went to see it, though I did also see a screening of Florence Foster Jenkins and I will be giving my opinion on it later at the end of this review. Also I picked this one because there was nothing else out this week that was easily accessible in my area and the Anime DVD’s I was hoping to review have had their release dates pushed back again because Anime Limited can’t get their DVD’s out on time to save their life. Now, let’s see if Seth Rogen made another decent comedy.

Bad Neighbours 2’s plot is set a couple of years after the events of the first Bad Neighbours movie. Kelly, (played by Rose Byrne) is once again pregnant and as a result her and Mac (played by Seth Rogen) have to move house to the suburbs in order to have the extra space for the new arrival. They are, however, in a bit of a bind because the new buyers have a 30 day cooling off period in which they can call the sale off of the old house and the situation isn’t helped when Shelby (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) bands a group of girls together, tired by the sexist attitude of fraternities and sororities in college life moves into the house next door with a group of other girls in order to form their own sorority and they are aided by Zac Effron’s Teddy Sanders in order to get the sorority together, as revenge against Mac and Kelly and following a fight with his best friend for asking him to move out following his engagement. However the sorority eventually kicks him out so he starts working for Mac and Kelly to get them out of their house so that they can sell the house. From the sounds of the plot line and looking at the trailer, which, if you went to the movies as much as I did, was unavoidable, you would think this film was a complete re-hash of the first one, however, as much as is does borrow a bit from the first film, there are actually a few points which set it apart, and it’s not just because it’s a sorority rather than a fraternity.

There are still a lot of interesting themes in this movie, it does tackle the idea of how sexist fraternities can be and how sororities don’t get as many privileges as fraternities do, for example, in this film that fraternities are allowed to throw parties on college campus but sororities aren’t and this is what sets Shelby’s sorority into motion. I don’t think the film tackles the whole sexism angle brilliantly but it’s better than a lot of other comedies that attempt to talk about the subject and I would even go so far as to say that it does it relatively well at times. However, after the first 40 minutes, it’s kind of thrown out of the window and the film never goes all out with it and it’s a shame because it could have been rather interesting. This also presents a different sort of challenge to Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s characters, because they have a Daughter, they are kind of looking into the possibility that this is what their Daughter is going to be like in 10-15 years time and there is a sense of fear that both her and their upcoming Daughter will be exactly the same and will not need them in the future. Again a rather interesting idea, but rather like the themes of growing up and taking responsibility that the first film brought on it never goes all out with this and it feels like a token gesture. This film is a prime example of a film that has been completely screwed by its trailer, which hi lighted several jokes, a couple of which don’t actually turn up in the final film and made it simply look like a clone of the first film, which I can’t say in total it is. The jokes are alright but we don’t really get to any good ones until at least 30 minutes into the film, in fact for the first 20 minutes the cinema was completely silent. I wasn’t in a packed cinema but the audience seemed game for a laugh and there weren’t that many laughs in the theatre, in fact I think I laughed more than most people in the cinema during this film and that’s a rarity, it’s usually the other way round! I’m not going to lie, there are some genuinely funny jokes in here. It takes a while to get to them and like the first film, most of the best jokes come from the dialogue and delivery of the comedians delivering the lines rather than slapstick, or in this case gross out humour which unfortunately this film seems to have slightly more reliance on than the previous film. Fortunately it doesn’t reach anywhere near the same levels of ‘Dirty Grandpa’ or ‘Grimsby’ so it’s slightly forgivable and the film knows it can’t coast on it. The film also knows it can’t rely on recycling jokes from the old film. Anyone who has seen the trailer knows the airbag joke makes a return, however, it’s not the same as it appears in the trailer and it’s not nearly as funny as the first time round, but that’s for two reasons:

1, we can see it coming and
2, it doesn’t feel nearly as spontaneous.

I will, however, give the film credit, there is one variation of the joke in the middle portion of the film which actually is very funny, but I daren’t explain it for spoiling one of the best jokes in the film, it’s quite funny at times and I think there are some good ideas and decent characters in this film. For one thing, I felt myself a lot more endeared to Chloe Grace Moretz and her sorority more than Zac Efron and the fraternity in the first film, and I thought there were some interesting character arcs in the film, they are not all great and I will say the biggest problem with the film is that they haven’t cured a lot of their narrative problems that it had in the first film. It still suffers from the lack of running narrative, it’s basically a lot of cut away gags that are kind of connected by a revolving plot and a couple of them get the sexism message down, especially the bikini part that is shown in the trailer quite a bit. I have to admit this doesn’t sink the film for me. Now, what does kind of sink the film for me is Zac Efron’s character Teddy who has really taken a step backwards since the ending of the first film. The ending of the first film implied that he had learnt his lesson, he was content with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s characters and held down a decent job and was going back to night college to further his education. The beginning of this film almost completely throws it out, he’s got a completely different job, he is struggling to find work because of his criminal record which amazingly they didn’t really mention at the end of the first film. He appears to have lost a lot of the maturity he built up, he does sort of get it back by the end but it does feel like we are playing a bit of repeat with his character especially. Oh, and speaking of the ending, this is where I have a bit of an issue. I actually prefer the ending of this film since it wraps things up nicely, has a strong message and is somewhat satisfying, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it’s a bit of a cop out ending. I welcome being challenged on that one, but I didn’t find this ending as strong, I can’t help thinking everything fell into place a bit too well!! There are some really bizarre jokes that don’t feel like they fit in with the film and for the love of God, I am sick of films having an excuse for Zac Efron to take his shirt off, haven’t we seen enough of that already, we get it, you work out a lot!!! Please stop showing off!! I will admit though, the excuse they give in this film is a lot better than they give in Dirty Grandpa, and the less said about that awful movie, the better.

As for the performances, they are a bit of a mixed bag. Chloe Grace Moretz really should suit comedy considering her time in the Kick-Ass movies, but she doesn’t really get that many punch lines, she is kind of playing a straight woman in this scenario. She is good at the role however, and her performance is much better than it was in the previously reviewed The 5th Wave, but it doesn’t begin to reach the heights of her performances in Kick-Ass and The Tales of the Princess Kaguya which I have also reviewed. Speaking of Kaguya, when I reviewed that last year I bought up that I thought she had a lot more range as an actress than directors and casting agents give her credit for and I get a sense that she doesn’t buy into that herself, honestly I think she should try a couple more roles that push her as I think she has the ability to pull off much tougher roles. I have never been much of a Zac Efron fan, and I would be lying if I said he was much better here, but at least in these two movies he is somewhat tolerable and that is the kindest way of putting it, he is nowhere near as awful as he was in Dirty Grandpa. Rose Byrne is once again very funny, but rather ironically I think she has got less funny lines in this film compared to the previous film where she did get a ton of funny lines. Seth Rogen is on good form, considering the standard of some of his comedies have been rather interesting and I know Ike Barinholtz is trying very hard, but the material he is given this time doesn’t work as well, for example, the clown joke from the trailer isn’t a one off and as a result it gets grating with each successive use of the joke and it’s a shame because the joke is funny the first time round. The rest of the girls in the Sorority are played by very good actresses and deliver some decent performances, the problem is that everyone else is kind of a cameo. There’s a very weird cameo from LL Cool J, Lisa Kudrow playing the dean has been reduced to one scene, and she is given the exact same joke she had in the first film, also all the major players in the Fraternity from last time are reduced down to cameo which is a shame because Christopher Mintz-Plasse is one of them and I would have found it interesting is they did a fourth wall joke about the Kick-Ass films considering both him and Chloe are in this movie.

I’m not going to lie, I think Bad Neighbours 2 is an ok movie.

It’s not nearly as funny as it thinks it is and for every problem it fixes from the first film, it creates another one, but you know, like the first film, I would describe it as ‘harmless’. There are couple of points in the film that they did better than the first film and also a couple of points that they did worse than the first film, so as a result I think the two create a nice middle ground and I think watching them together would make a nice double feature. There are some funny jokes in there, though a couple of them die on arrival, the writing varies, the slapstick is ok for the most part and the performances are all round passable. I wouldn’t rush to see this one at the cinema because I think like the first film, it’s a decent rental with beer and your mates and it’s one of those films to watch on Netflix if you are staying in on a Friday night. If you enjoyed the first one, you will like this one too and I think it’s a good idea to see the first one too if you haven’t already seen it. The major weak points are, it’s slight reliance on jokes from the first film and the fact that it has some interesting ideas but never goes quite all out with them.

As for the other films that I saw between this and Civil War, well we have a few actually. I went to see Ratchet and Clank, a preview screening of Florence Foster Jenkins and I went to Odeon screen unseen for a special preview screening, this is where you don’t actually know what you will be seeing until the screen goes up and in this case it was Everybody Want Some.

Ratchet and Clank is a film I would describe as relatively harmless, but it feels rather pointless especially considering the movie is exactly the same plot as the video game and I couldn’t help thinking that half the time I was watching an advert for PS4. It’s not something that I think is awful, although the animation leaves a lot to be desired but the plot doesn’t really work that well as a film and suited the video game a lot better. Also for a film called Ratchet and Clank, there are not than many scenes with Ratchet and Clank together.

Florence Foster Jenkins, which lost the vote to this week’s review is a really nice, charming film with some excellent performances, especially from Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. I daresay, I found it rather enjoyable, although I will admit this is probably a film that will slip from my memory in about a weeks time.

Everybody Wants Some is the latest film coming from writer/director Richard Linklater whose previous credits include The School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly and the Oscar nominated Boyhood, which also earned him a Best Director Nomination, which he probably should have won. It’s a rather plotless film about a group of Baseball players who have received College scholarships in the 70s and while it is the most 70s movie I have every watched with a fantastic soundtrack and performances, I wasn’t endeared to the characters as much as I would want to, which is kind of what you need in a film like this where this isn’t too much of a plot and just a sequence of events happening, but it was rather entertaining with some genuinely funny moments, which is what you would expect from Linklater, plus the actors did a decent job. I would recommend it if you are at all curious. It comes out on 18 May, though my only problem with it is there are little to no roles for women in this film and while it is a film set in the 70s it still feels rather sexist at times considering there are hardly any female roles with the exception of one towards the end that basically still just exists to be a love interest.

So what are your thoughts on Bad Neighbours 2 and any of the other three films I have just mentioned. Please leave a comment, we accept all opinions and of course we would be happy for you to submit your own content, it’s easy, just visit our ‘how to submit section’. Plus you can follow me on Twitter.

That’s another film down and let’s keep this going. Come back on 20 May where I will be giving my thoughts on the next video game adaptation to come out in 2016 ‘Angry Birds’.

Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Who is going back to see Captain America Civil War again?

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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