Blissfully married Mac and Kelly get new – and suitably bad – bad neighbours. Mac and Kelly strike back against said neighbours. Chaos ensues.
The formula is firmly intact from its predecessor. The relationship between Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) remains the same, as it does between the couple and their neighbours. It’s a consistency that applies across the board, including to the level of the humour on offer. Bad Neighbours was a perfectly capable popcorn movie, and so its sequel proves to be as well.
It’s with the neighbours themselves that the biggest shift comes. The first time around it was a case of boys will be boys, as frat jocks Teddy (Zac Efron), Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Pete (Dave Franco) wreaked havoc with reckless abandon, all in the good name of their fraternity, Delta Psi Beta. This time, it’s the ladies’ turn for a bit of equal rights partying. Girls, you see, can attend fraternity parties hosted by the boys, of course. But God forbid that they throw their own shindigs, for reasons unknown. Apparently this is actually a thing that exists still. Which is a pretty solid reason for university freshman Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) to start a new, forward thinking sorority: Kappa Nu. One that moves into the old digs of Delta Psi Beta, right next door to poor Mac and Kelly.
We get a decent gloss of feminism, some of which is spectacularly backwards from Efron’s Teddy, but the extent to which the issues are dug into only really go surface deep. Considering the bromance which blossoms between Teddy and Mac, and the amount of time spent on their relationship, it’s a pity that the same can’t be said of Shelby and Kelly. They don’t really have their own big developmental moment, or their big win for the feminist movement – just a small pep talk which is somewhat lost in the shuffle. But still I’m inclined to give kudos for it at least trying to be a bit smarter than it could probably have gotten away with being.
Early on the laughs come thick and fast. Shelby and her sorority girls aren’t the straight up douches that Teddy and his fraternity boys were in the first film, helping their goals feel relatable. The second half however is a mixed bag. More Rose Byrne would have been appreciated, whilst the solid Moretz would have benefited from a larger share of the jokes. Instead it leans heavily on its formula, with Rogen and the admittedly excellent Efron coming to the fore (which is all well and good, but sort of misses the point). The jokes land far more sporadically, things devolve quite swiftly into crude, slapstick territory, and it becomes increasingly samey. Funny? Sure. But we’ve seen it all before.
Rating (out of 5):