Rid of Zac Efron's rowdy fraternity next door, life is rosy again for Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne). There’s a new baby on the way and with an offer in on their house, they’re only 30 peaceful days from a new life. Then Chloë Grace Moretz and her Kappa Kappa Nu sorority friends move in…
To the uninitiated (or British), there’s something a bit alien about US college life. With its ancient Greek shorthand, terrifying razzing ceremonies and inexplicable use of garden equipment to chug beer, it’s basically Guantanamo Bay with exams. Those mythical rituals have provided material for comedies from Animal House to Revenge Of The Nerds to, ahem, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, each one filled with frat fantasies that seem a bit prehistoric on the modern campus. So it’s at least refreshing to report that Bad Neighbours 2 does something a bit different with the formula, although with a messy, unfocused feel and endless vibrator gags.
It’s more of the same as before, only with some half-cooked ideas about feminism chucked in.
The set-up is as-was, Nicholas Stoller picking up where his first film left off. Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne), still struggling with their own parenting issues and with their house on the market, find a fresh bunch of students across the fence. This time it’s a sorority led by determined newbie Shelby (Moretz) and her thinly-sketched pals. The stakes are higher this time, with their prospective buyers (Sam Richardson and Broad City's Abbi Jacobson, criminally underused) liable to pop round and able to pull the plug at any time. The besieged thirtysomethings are, as their blunt realtor tells them, on a “30-day don’t-fuck-up clock”. The tampons flung at their windows, raucous parties and bikini-clad students parked in their front yard aren’t helping.
Deviating from its predecessor's simple neighbour-versus-neighbour prankathon, the plot sprawls out to include a third party. Zac Efron’s Teddy Sanders, once the hero of the Delta Psi Beta fraternity but now floundering in post-college life and with his best pal (Dave Franco) out of the closet and engaged, finds his inner feminist warrior in Kappa Nu’s battle for the equal right to party. He’s soon on hand to fratsplain every cunning ruse to keep them in business.
There’s some funny slapstick beats as the warring parties batter each other into submission, and Efron gets some good lines as the gormless Teddy (“Why would it make eggs hard?” he gasps as Mac boils a saucepan of water, “It makes pasta soft”), but it’s more of the same, only with some half-cooked ideas about feminism chucked in. In a comedy where the merest sight of Efron’s oiled pecs reduces grown woman to helpless gawping, it’s an odd blend. Also, guys, the airbag gag wasn't that funny.
Comedy sequels very rarely improve on the original and this one is no exception. A for intentions, C for execution.