Saturday, July 2, 2016


Neighbors came out back in 2014 and was kind of a surprise hit of that year, delivering on comedy and even some good character work. And while, Neighbors 2 definitely breaks the stigma of comedy sequels almost always sucking by bringing in some great laughs throughout the film, Rogen, Goldberg and Stoller fail to bring the kind of heart and joy that makes some of their other films comedy classics.

The film revisits Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne), who are about to sell their house and move out. However, they forgot they had signed a special contract by which the incoming couple has a 30-day inspection period before they decide to buy and this is when Shelby (Chole Grace Moretz) and her friends move in next door and settle with their newly founded sorority. Mac and Kelly, with the help of the old nemesis, Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), have to find a way to make the girls move out, or risk not being able to sell their house. Neighbors 2 is directed and co-written by Nicholas Stoller, a great director in the comedy genre, and written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Andrew Jay Coen and Brendan O'Brien.

I have to say, Neighbors 2 could have been very easy for this film to be a beat by beat rehash of its predecessor with such a simple premise, yet if there is one thing that the filmmakers can be commended for, it'd be for not making such mistake by bringing in a whole new spin on almost every possible aspect. I personally never felt we were treading on old ground and whilst there are some gags that are brought back from the first one, they are integrated into the film in a way that makes them feel fresh, see the airbag scene for an example.

As always, we can expect from these guys all types of comedy and as usual they deliver on all of them: there's raunchy humor, slapstick, banter, pop culture and even some greatly irreverent humor on stereotypes that I found to be played greatly, in particular the moment when Rogen and Byrne have to convince their buyers that a Jew couple is living next door and out come Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo pretending to be so, it was comedy gold and it was all played visually in a way that unfortunately the rest of the film didn't quite commit to for the most part.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne keep having great chemistry together and delivering laughs even if their characters don't really have that much to do. Overall, the characterizations are kind of weak, even if all of the actors manage to take the best out of them and deliver funny performances. Moretz has always had great comedic timing and she brings another good performance to her catalogue showing great range. The one exception for me, as far as characterization goes, would have be Zac Efron. His character actually had a very interesting dynamic and whilst I could have done with a little less shirt-off humor, he had a nice arc and had some moments to really shine as a comedic performer.

Where the film fails is, as I said, that at its heart there isn't an overflowing sense of joy form the comedy. It has alternated moments of greatness and short periods where stuff is just happening and other than rarely ever making any kind of sense, which doesn't really matter in the end, it just becomes a little too much of visual noise and whilst the filmmakers are never banal in their editing choices and find funny moments everywhere, there is just not enough empathy with these people to actually care. Moreover, the thematic overtones the film tries to get into play have their moments of fun, but in their resolution they result somewhat forced at times and other times slightly inappropriate.

I laughed a lot and had the joy of experiencing some very glorious moments of comedy with Neighbors 2. I would recommend it for a good funny time, but unfortunately I didn't have the sense of exhilaration and adrenaline I want from a comedy, admittedly having being spoiled by these guys and their amazing work over the years.

James's Score: 6.5/10

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