Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
3/5   international title: Bad Neighbours 2
dir Nicholas Stoller
scr Andrew J Cohen, Brendan O'Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
prd Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
with Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Selena Gomez, Lisa Kudrow, Kelsey Grammer
release UK 6.May.16, US 20.May.16
16/US Universal 1h32
Neighbors 2
Undercover party-crashers: Efron, Rogen and Byrne

moretz franco gomez
See also:
Neighbors (2014)
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Bad Neighbours 2 There's plenty to laugh at in this sequel, which isn't as tight as the original and has a nagging sense of desperation to it. The script never quite finds an original idea, recycling both the plot and most of the best gags from the 2014 hit. But the up-for-it actors are funny, and almost sell the feeble attempts at girl-power and gay-equality topicality.

Expecting another child, Mac and Kelly (Rogen and Byrne) are moving to the suburbs. But the offer on their old house is jeopardised when a sorority moves in next door. This sisterhood was founded by Shelby (Moretz) and two friends (Clemons and Feldstein) to stand up against the male-oriented frat-house rules. And they get help from former fraternity leader Teddy (Efron), who's feeling lost after his best pal (Franco) gets engaged to his boyfriend. But when the girls declare war on Mac and Kelly, Teddy switches sides and helps them take the sorority down.

The timely themes feel like mere plot points, as the jokes continue to be centred around drugs and sexuality. At least it's relatively adult humour, never flinching from rude dialog, especially if a tiny child is present. Thankfully, these cheap gags are balanced by some genuinely knowing banter and sharply funny reactions from the strong cast, which is bolstered by scene-stealers like Kudrow (as the harassed dean) and Grammer (as Shelby's dad).

Rogen and Efron revisit their strong chemistry, with the added touch that both look utterly worn out by what life has thrown at them. Rogen and Byrne still have a terrific sense of timing, drawing laughter from even the most inane interaction. Efron happily dives into his soulful bimbo role. And Moretz shows some spiky comical skills. Oddly, the script comes up with nothing new to do with any of these characters. There's no arc, no self-discovery, no dawning relationship. Just more silliness.

It's this unambitious approach that leaves the film feeling inert. If anything, this sequel feels smaller than the original, with fewer original set-pieces and little insight into the generational clash that sparks the plot. But it's steadily amusing, with several riotously funny punchlines. Frankly, all director Stoller seems to be doing as a director here is making sure the camera is pointing at the likeable cast. And sometimes that's all you need in a dumb comedy.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 4.May.16

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