Bad Neighbours 2 (Cinema Review)

15 – 92mins – 2016


 

SORORITY ROW

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.

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars

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The Night Before (DVD Review)

15 – 97mins – 2015


DICK THE HALLS

For people of a certain age and particular mentality, this is a fun and easily accessible conglomo-homage to all the classic Christmas movies they watched growing up (Home Alone, Die Hard, Santa Claus: The Movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Grinch), fused with some trademark Seth Rogan stoner humour and life-affirming epiphanies. For everyone else, this is a series of crude and lazy riffs on more popular films which are used as a crutch to support some frankly immature and indecent japes, with the whole sorry affair tied up in an overly-sentimental bow.

From the guys who brought you Pineapple Express comes yet another excuse for Seth Rogan to get his bezzie mates in a film, with The Walk‘s Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie completing a trio of lifelong friends who meet up every Christmas Eve to totally lose their shit to drink and debauchery in an effort to help JGL’s Ethan get over the painful time of year when he lost his parents 15 years earlier.

Realising that work commitments, family responsibility and adulthood are looming and pulling them all in different directions, the ladz decide to hang up their annual festive tradition with one final motherfunkin’ blow-out at the Holy Grail of Christmas parties – the elusive, invite-only Nutcracka Ball. I suppose an alternative title could have been This Is The End of Christmas Tradition.

Bewilderingly, Isaac (Rogen) is gifted a Pandora’s box of drugs by his astoundingly understanding pregnant wife (Jillian Bell), while newly famous football star Chris (Mackie) is desperate to avoid his smothering mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and score some weed to impress his domineering jack-ass of a team captain (Aaron Hill). Commitment-phobic Ethan, however, is just looking for a chance to forget what a mess his life is in and hang out with his childhood buds – until he bumps into his ex (Lizzy Caplan), and realises he may have made a big mistake in letting her go…

With swapped mobiles, stolen stashes, chance encounters and an enigmatic drug dealer (Michael Shannon) busying their road to the Ball, the bromance suffers some kicks to the nether-regions before the pals get wise and comfortable with growing up and settling down. It’s a sweet and timeless message to end on, provided you can endure a crowbarred Miley Cyrus sing-along (akin to her stint in A Very Murray Christmas) and James Franco dick pics (yes, you read that right) en route.

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars