Just as Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) sell their home and plan on moving to the suburbs they suddenly find themselves under attack again as a sorority led by party girl Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) move in next door. The arrival of former frat boy Teddy (Zac Efron) has everybody asking which side he will decide to join.
The last few things have shown us that comedy sequels often do not live up to original film in the franchise… especially, so it seems, if that original film was an absolute comedy gem. Comedy fans have watched as franchise after franchise have taken this ill-fated path as – Zoolander 2, Horrible Bosses 2, Hangover 2 + 3 and Anchorman 2 have all fallen well short of the brilliance that their predecessor had brought. The result was scorn from film critics and comedy lovers right around the world.
Now we find ourselves sitting down to watch Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising a film born into existence after the shock success of the 2014 adult rated comedy. With much of the key cast and crew returning for a second trip you could be excused for thinking that this film would be just as good… sadly that wasn’t the case.
This time around we find young parents Mac (Seth Rogen – This Is The End) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne – Insidious) expecting their second child and in the middle of selling their home as they decide to move their expanding family out to the suburbs. With the house sold the couple just have to hope that nothing goes wrong during the thirty day cooling off period.
Enter Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz – Kick-Ass) who feels that the sororities are getting the raw end of the deal when she discovers that they can’t party the same way as fraternities. Desperate to proves that girls can do it just as well as boys she moves her sorority into the house next to Mac and Kelly’s causing the couple to realise that their nightmare is coming true. Worse still is the fact that after being thrown out by his best friend, Pete (Dave Franco – Now You See Me), former fraternity leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron – The Lucky One) is only too happy to teach them everything he knows.
Sadly though Bad Neighbours 2 is another sequel that struggles to get anywhere near the quirkiness and humor that the first film managed to produce. The sad thing about this film is that it should have been painfully clear for anyone watching the first cuts of the film to see what had gone wrong – yes the problems here at basic but enough to sink the film.
The main thing that drags down this film is some very lazy and poor screenwriting. At times it feels like the writers here forgot key points from the first film, things such as the fact that at the end of the film Mac and Teddy met up and seemingly settled their difference, yet at the beginning of this film it feels like they haven’t seen each other since the frat moved out and Teddy still has a score to settle. Likewise much of the ‘wrong’ comedy that made the first film work so well are missing here. At the screening I was at the audience burst into laughter the 2-3 times the writers were game enough to attempt a politically incorrect joke but for the rest of time barely raised a chuckle as attempted jokes just played out on the screen in front of them.
The other big issue with Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising is the members of the sorority themselves. It seems like the writers were hamstrung with what they should do with most of the female characters this time around. On one hand they set up Shelby, Nora (Beanie Feldstein – Fan Girl) and Beth (Kiersy Clemons – Dope) as bad girls who want to live up life at college. Yet when it comes to the crust of things we see anything but and the girls end up becoming walking clichés whose actions seem to become very ‘unimportant’ to the writers. In one scene a big deal is made about the fact that Shelby is a virgin yet her ‘Shelby Lost Her Virginity’ is shown in a quick ten second montage. As if that isn’t made enough the writers seem to have borrowed the characteristics of the girls from Pitch Perfect – perhaps they didn’t think we would notice that the alternative girl, the larger girl and the strange-speaking Asian character act had all been done before.
Sadly it seems the sorority was ruined by writers who seemed to want to make the characters too politically correct and as a result they lost their hard edge. Remember back to the original film when Teddy, Pete and Scoonie (Chrisopher Mintz-Plasse – How To Train Your Dragon) were politically incorrect yet also had memorable characterisation? Well all of that is missing here from the girls of the sorority and boy does it show. Perhaps the writers needed to revisit films like Valentine and Sorority Row to see how ‘bad’ sorority girls should be written.
The other unfortunate losers when it comes to the writing are the cast. Rogen and Byrne are certainly held back from delivering the good comedic performances they did in the first film and while supporting cast members like Ike Barinholtz (Sisters) and Carla Gallo (We Bought A Zoo) do get the odd laugh here and there it just isn’t enough to save the film. And as for poor Chloe Grace Moretz, well this normally good actress is reduced to a ‘nothing’ role that is best to be left off her resume.
In reigning in Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising and making it more politically correct than the original film in the franchise the powers-that-be behind the film have made this a largely unfunny film that rehashes old jokes and doesn’t even deserve to live in the shadow of its much more impressive brother. Fans of the original film beware, you will not get as many laughs this time around.
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz
Running Time: 92 mins
Release Date: 6th May, 2016