15 – 92mins – 2016
Now in their mid-20s, the bros of Delta Psi Beta have grown up, carving out successful careers and happy relationships. All, that is, except for former frat leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), who feels lost and lonely in the “adult” world. Coasting in a retail job and kicked out of his recently-engaged best friend’s spare room, Teddy is drawn back to the lifestyle in which he excelled: agreeing to mentor a newly established sorority of alternative, free-spirited sisters who just so happen to have rented the house next to Teddy’s old adversaries, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne).
With 2014’s Bad Neighbours grossing a remarkable $270million from a modest $18million budget, a sequel was inevitable. And here returning director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and The Night Before team stick to the age old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Because Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (as it is titled in the US) not only repeats the very same ‘family versus frat’ plot, it also mines the same jokes and story beats from two years ago.
So we get more of Seth Rogen’s stoner humour (because all conscientious young fathers have a lounge littered with glass bongs), more outrageously inconsiderate party antics which every other house on the block seemingly has no objection to, more over-egged generation gap ribbing, more gratuitous opportunities to ogle Zac Efron’s abs and more awkward talky sex scenes between the “old couple” who really aren’t that old or out of touch at all.
Likeable Teddy’s implementation into the ‘battle’ is the only nifty touch, because everybody knows a college hot shot who peaked too soon, even if his initial antagonism toward Mac and Kelly feels a little out of place given the resolution scene at the end of the first film.
While there is a worthy message in Shelby’s (Chloë Grace Moretz) Kappa Kappa Nu plot about breaking from stringent (possibly even sexist?) rules and traditions and finding yourself at college, it’s a shame that any grand life lesson is sabotaged by the clichéd route in which the film reaches it. Namely: via weed, booze, flaunting your body and destroying furniture.
But then platitudes are hardly surprising in a film so desperate to replicate a winning formula that it goes to the effort of making “mama” Kelly pregnant again for no discernible plot reason than to give Mac and his wife more ammunition to be peeved at teenagers being teenagers. You won’t sit stony-faced throughout – there are some bad taste belly laughs to be had from Bad Neighbours 2 – it’s just a shame you’ve seen it all before – oily pecs and all.