Seth Rogen's Bad Neighbours proved to be 2014’s highest grossing original comedy, which was no small feat given it had come up against numerous major rival studio projects including 22 Jump St, Muppets Most Wanted and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Based, then, on the Hollywood principle of ‘if it does well, do it again’, the sequel - Bad Neighbours 2 - was as inevitable as it was blandly named (although, to be fair, in the US it goes by Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising).
If your immediate concern is ‘But I didn’t see the first film’ - fear not, neither instalment of Bad Neighbours is built around anything resembling a complex plot. In the sequel, as with the first film, young parents Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), find themselves living next to a newly established sorority, only this time the stakes are even higher since they’ve just sold their house and are at risk of having the new buyers scared off during escrow. The premise, then, is a simple one: Mac and Kelly need to shut down the sorority and its feisty feminist leader Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz).
Joining them again, initially as foe and then later as accomplice, is Zac Efron's ‘Teddy’ - a loveably stupid frat house alumnus now struggling to come to terms with life after bro-dom. With his friends having all moved on into successful careers and meaningful relationships, Teddy latches onto the opportunity to help Shelby establish ‘Kappa Nu’, before switching sides to then shut it down after they cut him loose. It’s a classic 80s style slapstick and gross out comedy that pits young versus old, only here with the small addition of a feminist subplot built around the genuinely remarkable fact that American sororities, unlike their male frat counterparts, are forbidden from throwing parties.
As with all Rogen comedies, this one’s full of dildo jokes, weed and improvised dialogue ending either in offensive insults or loud, manic screaming. Rogen and Byrne’s relationship never feels entirely believable, but their recurrent anxiety over being bad parents offers up some delightfully funny moments and will surely ring true for all parents with newborns. The star, though, is Efron, whose physical performance and self-deprecating approach endears him from the very first scene through to the last.
Bad Neighbours 2 is entirely the kind of outrageous, over the top romp that doesn’t pretend to be anything more, and rewards you with a steady stream of laugh out loud moments throughout.