Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen and Zac Efron unite once more under director Nicholas Stoller in the comedy sequel Bad Neighbours 2. Taking place a few years after Mac and Kelly Radner went to war with the neighbouring Fraternity house led by Teddy Sanders, the couple are now expecting a second child and are in escrow awaiting for the final sale of their house. To complicate matters, a new Sorority opens up next door in place of the old Fraternity headed by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young girl looking to change the perception and operation of a Sorority. As the parties start up once again Mac and Kelly do everything in their power to prevent the new neighbours from ruining the sale of their house, with their secret weapon Teddy.
The first film was a nice little surprise in 2014, with some solid comedy and entertaining performances. However the follow up, like many comedy sequels before it, is a mere shadow of its predecessor, both in it’s poorer than the first film, and is pretty much a repeat of it as well. Think like going from The Hangover to The Hangover Part 2. It’s not as funny, not as entertaining, and lacking not only in laughs, but heart and a decent pace too.
The film opens with another awkward intimate love scene between Mac and Kelly. Mac struggles to keep quiet with some discerning groans of pleasure, and Kelly is feeling queasy after some seafood. It inevitably leads to a rather amusing climax but it’s about as good as the comedy gets. From there we move at 100mph as Teddy suffers a “quarter life crisis”, Shelby starts a Sorority and the pandemonium begins. Most comedies work when they are shorter, and swifter, but Bad Neighbours 2 moves so fast that there is almost no build up to any punchline, joke, or event. The first film’s comedy worked well because there was a steady process of escalation from mischief, to sabotage, to air bags. However this time it goes from 1 to 10 in the blink of an eye, with Shelby and the Sorority flinging used sanitary products at their neighbours house within the first half of the film.
What doesn’t help the progression of the film is that in the 92 minutes it’s on, not only does it have the primary story of Mac and Kelly selling their house, it tries to juggle two smaller story arcs. One involving Teddy and his breakdown over his life and career, and the other following Shelby as she tries to create a new type of Sorority and lead a sort of half hearted charge of female empowerment by doing so. The three of these arcs in a 90 minute frame leaves little time to develop the comedy, as well as hindering each of the stories strands.
Bad Neighbours 2 is the hallmark of a poor comedy sequel that fails to live up to the standards of the first film, and one that uses nearly all of it’s good moments in the marketing campaign. There are some periodic moments that will lead to a laugh, but for the most part you might find yourself just smiling rather than laughing.