Sunday, 8 May 2016

Review: Bad Neighbours 2

Bad Neighbours 2 (or "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" if you're not in the UK)
Cert: 15 / 92 mins / Dir. Nicholas Stoller / Trailer

In the opening 60 seconds of Bad Neighbours 2, Rose Byrne's character is sick onto the face of Seth Rogen's character*1 while they're having sex. Now, this early on in the proceedings you should still be able to nip back out to the ticket-counter and ask for a refund*2 before spending the following ninety minutes doing something more productive and/or rewarding. As an added bonus, you can still tell people you've watched Bad Neighbours 2, because that scene is a perfect crystallisation of everything which is to follow…

So, a couple of years after the events of Bad Neighbours, Seth and Rose find themselves expecting another child (which serves as the paper-thin excuse for the aforementioned emetical joke), so are looking to upgrade to a larger home. Next door's frat-house from the first movie has fallen into disrepair, its inhabitants having moved out after graduation (the main core of which return for this film in separately filmed scenes, presumably written and added well into post-production). But the sale of the Seth and Rose's house is threatened when Zac Efron helps Chloë Grace Moretz*3 set up a sorority house next door for plot reasons! The girls move in and have parties and are noisy and outrageous and it upsets their adult neighbours, not because they're old and stuffy but because it reminds them they're slipping into middle-age! Yes, again. No, it is a different film because this time it's girls living next door instead of guys and this one's got a '2' at the end of the title, so it's definitely different. And anyone who says it's the same three jokes as last time for another hour and a half is lying! Or has seen both films.

Some of you might expect the replacement of a fraternity with a sorority to be used as a device to let the female performers take the narrative lead and maybe show the guys how it's done! Some of you would be disappointed. The only real feint towards equality here is that all of the characters are equally awful, and are treated as such. "I'm sick of guys telling us what to do!" says Chloë to her two sorority co-founders, not five minutes after the trio had been told what to do by about 100 of their female contemporaries, necessitating the new group in the first place. This level of social oneupmanship continues throughout the film (in exactly the same way that it didn't when it was guys living next door) and is almost completely unresolved. Any messages the film tries to impart relating to either gender or generational divides are as incoherent as they are insincere.

Other than the thematic-collander and recycled story, it's slapstick, weed references and knob-jokes all round*4. A few of these land well, but can't excuse the vehicle used to deliver them. But hey, the other two people in the auditorium laughed heartily throughout the film, so I'm clearly in a minority, statistically at least. Nothing new there, either.

Much like the film's opening scene, Bad Neighbours 2 is Universal's comedy department vomiting into the mouth of their audience whilst simultaneously fucking them and telling everyone it's funny.

Maybe it is, I suppose it depends on where you're sitting...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The first one.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
This is a £3 DVD (and not a good one), inexplicably playing in your local multiplex at a 300%+ markup..

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
…annoy me? Yes.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Dormé's in it.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Do the characters have names? I have no idea. I mean, they're barely even characters...

*2 By this point you will have already sat through the trailer for the Mother's Day. Those three minutes alone entitle you to a bit of your money back.

*3 When the acclaimed actress Chloë Grace Moretz signed on to star in The Equalizer, I imagine she did it as a gesture of goodwill, not least since she'd be working with Oscar-winner Denzel Washington. The end-result of course was that she had a very small role in a slightly lacklustre action movie, but there was no real harm done, either to the genre, box office figures or her career. Likewise, Chloë's performance as Hit-Girl in the well-received Kick-Ass more or less assured her place in its somewhat underwhelming sequel. But again, I think we can all see the logic which went into her autograph at the foot of the contract. But what chain of events has lead to an undeniably promising young performer, whose best work should yet be ahead of her, appearing in the lazy, unasked-for sequel to a charmless, unwarranted original? At what point in her life was CGM chilling out on a Saturday night with a bunch of friends, when she sat bolt upright on the sofa and pointed, spellbound, at one of Seth Rogen's also-ran movies and gasped "That! I want to be in THAT! Get my agent on the phone! Are they making a sequel? Can I FINANCE a sequel just to be a canonical part of this cinematic saga??". Because there's little-enough reason for the main cast to leave the house for this dross without besmirching the CVs of even more people, too.

*4 To the film's credit, there's a pretty good Insidious 2 joke in there, which is executed with more subtlety and wit than the rest of the movie put together. That's it, though.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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