EXPECTATIONS: An inferior sequel to the original, just like most comedy sequels.
REVIEW: Teen comedies have been a strong staple in bringing laughter and with such cult classics such as Animal House, Superbad and American Pie, but there have been disasters like the recent Dirty Grandpa, Project X, The Hot Chick and many others. So when I watched Bad Neighbours for the first time, my expectations were met, especially since the film was made by the involvement from the creators of Superbad. Which leads me to the concept of comedy sequels. There are very few sequels that can better the original, but in the case of comedies, even less so. Films like Ghostbusters 2, the Hangover sequels, the American Pie films and others all failed to capture and improve on what made the originals successful in the first place. So when I watched Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising, I was very cautious. But I am happy to report that not only is this film just as funny as the original, it takes issues from the original and fixes them.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne reprise their roles as Mac Radner and pregnant wife Kelly (whose last name reveal is amusing). Their life is seemingly great, with their purchase of a new house and another child on the way. But then come the unruly sisters of Kappa Nu (consisting of a game Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons and Beanie Feldstein) move in next door. As loud parties continuously disrupt the peace, the couple turn to former neighbour and onetime rival Teddy Sanders (an even more buffed up Zac Efron) for help. Now with an unstable yet new alliance, the group (including Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo reprising their roles) devises schemes to get the wild sorority off the block. Unfortunately (for them, not for the audience), the rebellious young women refuse to go down without a fight.
The cast of the film look like they are having a hell of a time and they make the most out of it. Seth Rogen is still playing the “man-child” role out of the group but he is a lot more confident in doing it and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Rose Byrne has a little less to do (her character is pregnant, for one thing) but she still holds her own and takes part in the shenanigans and even has a couple of zingers. Let’s just say that no one can pull off a bribe the way she does. Zac Efron is still a delight and even adds a little more depth to his character as he is also going through a phase in pre-adulthood. His committed line delivery to such lines as losing his 401K or the spelling of the word “sorority” provide lots of laughs. But the weak link to the cast is Chloe Grace Moretz. She’s not bad at all, but mostly it’s not her fault as it is the fault of the script. Her character changes quite abruptly at times, from likable, charming and independent to rebellious in such quick succession, that she seems to find it difficult to keep up. Some of the supporting cast reprise their roles in small parts and they all contribute to the fun.
The cast are committed, but what about the jokes? Oh, yeah, the laughs are consistent throughout and are quite witty and shocking at times. The reprisals of jokes and plot-points in the previous film are turned upside-down and it adds some much-needed unpredictability to the film i.e. the hilarious use of airbags. Some of the jokes are downright gross or controversial (like the intentionally bad portrayal of Jewish people), but it is so over-the-top and delivered with glee from Nicholas Stoller’s direction, it’s easy to get swept up by the enthusiasm of it all. There is even a surprising undercurrent of social commentary in the subject of sexism that is relevant and is also satirized for laughs, like the existence of reverse racism but on the contrary, there is no reverse-sexism, since men supposedly cannot be offended or objectified. And like the first film, the story is character-driven and the characters actually show growth and development throughout the story, which is refreshing nowadays, especially in a comedy like this.
Aside from the inconsistent character portrayal of Chloe Grace Moretz’s Shelby and the humour sometimes clearly aiming for shock value, Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising is a worthy sequel that feels, like the characters, a little more grown-up, a little more timely and a lot more confident in what it strives to be: a damn good comedy.
The cast give their all to their roles, exhibiting wonderful chemistry and lots of fun
The jokes are more witty, self-referential and timely
Inconsistent character portrayals
Some jokes are purely for shock value than actual laughs
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Cast: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Selena Gomez
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Screenwriter: Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg