Thursday, December 29, 2016

(Bad) Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising review

I missed it in theatres, but here is my review of the sequel to 2014's Neighbors (or Bad Neighbours, as it was called overseas).


Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), our heroes from the previous movie are expecting another baby. Realising they no longer have the space, they have bought a new house. However, their current residence is in escrow so they have to stay in it for 30 days. And then the house next door gets some new tenants...

Neighbours 2 might not be as funny as the first one, but what this one does is turn what could have been a re-heated premise into something far richer than you would expect. Like the previous film, Neighbours 2 takes time to develop its antagonists, and while the gender switch could have been a gimmick, it makes for some more pointed commentary about double standards (in both the greek system and comedy).

Within the first few minutes of our introduction to our sorority sisters (Chloe Grace Moretz, Dope MVP Kiersey Clemons and Jonah Hill's sister Beanie Feldstein), the film quickly establishes their dilemma: thrown together by a particularly skeevy frat party (lit and shot like a Dario Argento movie) they decide to make their own sorority outside the system and the patriarchal power dynamics of the campus 'sisterhood'.

No spoilers, but there are some really great jokes, and the movie deserves kudos for not replaying the old hits. Sorry to disappoint all you NCIS: LA/Deep Blue Sea fans, but LL Cool J's scene is not in the movie. It's better to go in clean -- the trailers don't spoil the best jokes.

Performances across the board are terrific: Rogen and Byrne remain relatable and likeable, Zac Efron finds new layers within his muscled douchebag -- and gets most of the best laughs -- and the 'Sisters' are more than worthy substitutes for the last films' 'bros'. Moretz is a strong leader of the pack, and receives great support from Clemons (please give her some leads) and Feldstein (her too). It's a strong movie that manages to balance its mutual antagonists without implying demonising one or the other -- it's one of the movie's strengths.

Enough rambling from me. (Bad) Neighbo(u)rs 2 has the second best use of the Beastie Boys' song 'Sabotage' in a movie this year, and definitely worth a watch.

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