Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Kiersey Clemons, Lisa Kudrow, Selena Gomez
Written by: Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, (also based on the characters created) Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien
Running Time: 92 mins
Release date: 6th May 2016
Those who are regular readers of my rambling will know that I have a certain relationship with Seth Rogan, in which, when he does serious, like in Steve Jobs, he is very good. When he does comedy, like in Bad Neighbours, he is repulsive and puerile and I really cannot stand him. So entering Bad Neighbours 2, the sequel to one of the films I loathe, I entered with a heavy heart and a sense of impending doom. Bad Neighbours was about as funny as having your teeth removed without any painkillers. Yet, as the film started, I had an uneasy feeling. The usual infestation of smutty, infantile crassness seemed to be lessened by a surprising inclusion of something remotely related to dealing with a serious issue…that of sexism! WHAT???? A Seth Rogan movie that was on the side of females? Unheard of!
Then, to my horror upon horror, as the film continued in its early stages, he showed a gay couple kissing! DOUBLE WHAT???? You mean to say that the usual homophobic antics where Rogan feared for his masculinity had been abandoned for a genuine homosexual pairing??? Has the man been hit by a truck and we haven’t heard about it? Had he been struck down by lightning and survived? Was this, in fact, a Seth Rogan movie?
After the initial few scenes, it suddenly turned into business as usual. The familiar assortment of sexually antiquated gags about children with sex toys and a splattering of crass four letter words replacing any real attempt at humour but for those few moments, I thought I had entered another world.
The story picks up four years after the events of the first film. Gone is the Frat house that terrorised couple Mac and Kelly, who are now expecting a second child and want to sell their home. With a couple ready to sign, they unwittingly allowed the house to have a 30 day cooling period where the new owners could arrive at any time and could drop out of buying. Everything must be sweet. Until, Shelby arrives next door. A freshman at college, she is sick and tired of Frat Houses holding parties and the female equivalent, Sororities, being unable to. She and her friends decide to start a Sorority and so Mac and Kelly have to deal with partying females. In order for them to protect their home, they have to turn to their old adversity, Teddy.
The central idea of escaping the usual college trappings for a group of girls refusing to be used as sex objects is an interesting premise and it speaks volumes about how male dominated the whole college system is. An opening party where Shelby and her friends attend a typical Frat House party includes signs saying “No means yes” and allows the males to take advantage of any female in their domain. The second interesting premise belongs to Teddy. With his buddies now either settled down or with sensible jobs, he is the only one unwilling to let go of the past and grow up, even when his best friend accepts the proposal of his boyfriend and asks Teddy to leave their home.
However, once the initial set-ups have been established, it’s business as usual with the main actors allowed to improvise in scenes that are far too long and in which they think that by saying the F-word several hundred times, it will be hilarious. No, it’s not. Yet hidden away, every so often, is a half decent joke that, and I cannot believe I’m saying it, made me laugh. A conversation between Mac and Teddy, where Mac is teaching him to cook, is both sweetly naive and amusing at the same time. Man, I must be going down with something!
Bad Neighbours 2 isn’t the Citizen Kane of the crass, gross-out comedy but it is miles better than the original and almost Oscar worthy compared to Dirty Grandpa. It runs out of steam a long way in, does rely on familiar riffs and set-ups, although the airbag joke, performed so badly in the first film, actually works, this time, thanks to it not being shown in the trailer. and yes, I chuckled a lot more than I would ever have dreamed of during a Seth Rogan film. Is he finally growing up? Still bad but not terrible.