Movie Review: Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising

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Bad Neighbours, only with girls.

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Nicholas Stoller, 2016

Two years after the events of Bad Neighbours, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) discover they’re expecting their second child. They decide to move into a bigger house, and they have a couple interested in buying, but for one month they’ll be in escrow. Meanwhile, after discovering the grossly sexist parties being thrown by frats and the unfair rules stating sororities can’t throw parties, rebellious Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) decides to start her own sorority with her new college friends. Unfortunately for the Radners, the girls decide to move in to the neighbouring house, which has sat empty since the fraternity left. They enlist the help of disgraced former frat member Teddy (Zac Efron), who is struggling to find a job or meaning in his life. His criminal record makes it hard to get a job, and his best friend Pete (Dave Franco) has asked him to move out to make room for his fiance. At first the Radners and the Kappa Nu girls try to make peace, but unsurprisingly that doesn’t last long. Soon enough all-out war breaks out between the two houses, with Teddy caught in the middle.

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Bad Neighbours 2 is a strange beast; its comedy follows closely in the vein of the first film, but its philosophy is markedly different. The opening scenes, which reintroduce our existing characters and introduce us to the new ones, are immediately pro-gay marriage, anti-double standards for women, and anti-racism and white privilege. The film pulls no punches in lambasting conservative, old-fashioned views, and is very vocal in its feminism. That’s probably the most notable point of difference between the two entries in this franchise, because most of the other beats of this movie follow the first pretty closely. The humour is similarly gross and increasingly outlandish, though it doesn’t seem to get quite as life-threatening from the Kappa Nu girls. It’s mostly Teddy putting himself in harm’s way here. The film continues to highlight Rose Byrne’s comedic talents as well, although their storyline here – feeling liked bad parents (they really are) and not wanting to lose money – seem less effective than the “growing up is hard” from the first film. Again, Mac and Kelly only really seem like good parents in relation to their terrible friends.

Zac Efron gets the most work to do in this film, both dramatically and comedically, and he proves himself up to the task. (Also, Zac Efron as Hillary Clinton is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.) His chemistry with Seth Rogen still shines. The girls are good when they’re together, the three core sorority members particularly strong when they’re bonding over the college experience and their desire to be independent women. They’re funny with Efron, too, but they aren’t quite as good against the Radners. There are still some good set-pieces, particularly when Mac and Kelly and their friends attempt to go “undercover” at a tailgate party where Teddy strips and Shelby shows off her track & field skills. The film feels a little too busy, too interested in bringing back all the characters from the first film and not spending enough time on the sorority girls’ character development. Their final party is a lot more poignant, though, challenging their own stated ethics as they try to keep the sorority alive. Bad Neighbours 2 could do a little more to challenge itself, but it’s more than a worthy successor to the first film.

Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising on IMDb

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