With Neighbors 2 opening last week in several territories overseas, the first wave of reviews from the trades and mostly UK and Australian publications have been published.
Overall, the reviews are pretty good. Some think the sequel is even better than the original, some like it about the same and some think it doesn't entirely live up to its predecessor but it clearly is no critical disaster like many comedy sequels at all. The vast majority of the reviews really like the social commentary the film engages in.
Due to the addition of more characters, it's now more of an ensemble film now and consequently many reviews don't go into the individual performances. The reviews that do comment on Zac, generally like or love his performance, there are really only a few meh reviews (included below to be fair, having to do with his character not really his work) and zero negative reviews so far (a first for him I think).
Here is what reviewers so far had to say about Zac:
Zac Efron's faded fratboy lends unexpected poignancy to this raucous, unexpectedly of-the-moment comedy sequel.
Still, while a subtly clawed Chloë Grace Moretz proves a worthy new foil, it’s Zac Efron’s tragicomic anatomy of a dudebro that remains this series’ sharpest asset.
So it’s a neat trick that its most vacant figure has somehow become its most touching: Efron, a gifted comic performer who has learned to wield his unblemished physical beauty as a kind of punchline, plays dumb with deadpan elegance (“There’s no ‘I’ in sorority,” he enthuses, with perfect conviction), but also a hint of echoing desperation. Perhaps, after all its provocative muddling of identity politics, this messy but lively sequel does come down on the side of the handsome straight white male — but if so, it’s a pity vote at best.
Its chief pleasure turns out to be Zac Efron, who delivers a sweet-natured turn as ageing dim-wat, little-frat-boy-lost Teddy, back from the original film to torment Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne again as they try to sell their house.
Efron delivers another mostly shirt-less performance, but the actor’s abilities as a physical comedian generate some of the film’s laugh-out-loud sequences.
With Moretz and the usually-dependable Rose Byrne struggling with their under-written roles, it’s clear where the writers’ sympathies really lie - with Zac Efron in particular, and Seth Rogen as his sidekick, who take up where they left off in the original, and their schtick is dependably funny. A tailgate party/weed heist gives the duo an opportunity to show their goods - in Efron’s case, his abs - although one of the biggest comic threads, involving misplaced text messages, doesn’t make much sense, either literally or comically.
But Teddy has the best lines here (“there’s no I in Sorority,” he declares), and Efron makes the most of the opportunity. Now aged 28 himself, the actor has struggled to come of age on-screen, but Bad Neighbors bodes well for as bright a future as Teddy niftily manages to achieve for himself here.
After the execrable filth that was Dirty Grandpa, Zac Efron - an actor with enough movie star wattage to light up an entire city - needed redemption. Fortunately, for him as much as us, he's gone and found it in a New Bromantic comedy sequel to the unexpectedly delightful Bad Neighbours.
Teddy (Efron) might be a ridiculously handsome King of the Bros and continuing to dine out on past frat house glories, but he's also a wounded individual with abandonment issues. He just wants to be wanted by those around him.
The actors are all on point, especially Chloë Grace Moretz, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne.
The comedic timing from the cast, particularly Byrne and Efron, is spot on, as is the empowering message to young women that hits a similar beat to the egalitarian world imagined in Magic Mike XXL.
Zac Efron gives an enjoyably self-deprecating performance as the Peter Pan-like frat boy who is incapable of growing up. (Asked about his long-term plans in life, he replies with a winning naivety, “I’ll probably play some games on my phone.”)
There are a few cameos scattered throughout, all which seem a little mis-placed, but it is the main cast we’re paying to see, and it is great to be in the company of Rogen, Byrne and Efron’s company once again. Their chemistry and watchable qualities are present once again, and Efron is back on form, and in darned good shape, after a few career mishaps in the last twelve months (though we actually did like We Are Your Friends, though we suspect we’re in the minority there).
Efron’s Teddy is now a dejected shell of his former self, and there’s plenty of fun to be had with that, with Efron getting to stretch his range a little beyond the still obligatory shirtless scenes.
Efron’s Teddy is perhaps the finest example of this. Whilst his character pines for the fraternity glory days gone by, he’s very much the heart of this often hilarious film as he yearns for nothing more than to be needed; to say he has abandonment issues would be an understatement.
Byrne and Efron are terrific, as in-your-face hedonism and hilarity becomes a powerful force for good.
Wobbly, uneven and dodgy, the best thing about this film is Zac Efron – and that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
So it’s down to Efron to prevent it all sinking into one-star ignominy as he gamely sends up his image as a none-too-bright gay pin-up.
Best bit: Zac Efron is a hoot.
Being a sequel, the vulgarity is stepped up a notch and characters such as Zac Efron’s Teddy get brought back for great amusement. Zac Efron plays a meat head really well (and I think I counted at least five ‘shirts off’ scenes for those of you interested, not forgetting the one ‘pants off’ scene). When Efron and Rogan are on the screen together you will find it extremely hard not to laugh: discussing the magic of boiling water is a highlight in dumbness.
The core four performances from Rogen, Byrne, Efron and Moretz are brilliant. All have superb comedic timing, embodying a wonderful pathos which is often missing in modern day comedies. Efron’s Teddy grows over the course of the film, past being just a generic fraternity douche into a realistic character.
However, the real pleasure here is the return of Zac Efron as low wattage beefcake, Teddy. He’s been politely turfed out of his house share with his soon-to-be wed old college buddy (the ever funny Dave Franco). Exiled from guyville, Efron does the wounded and lost himbo act to grand effect and gets some of the best laughs. He reinvents himself as a kind of Van Wilder/Stifler mentor to the breakaway sorority and finds a new role guiding them sagely in the art of partying hard and block warfare strategies against the fuming Mac and Kelly.
To the cast’s credit, they collectively deliver as well as you’d expect on the back of a successful predecessor; Efron gets something marginally more to do this time around, while Rogen and Byrne may be going through the motions, but do so with at least marginal likeability.
Efron did his duty and got his kit off while also being incredibly funny and it was nice to see familiar faces Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse return for small roles.
Zac Efron is still a delight and even adds a little more depth to his character as he is also going through a phase in pre-adulthood. His committed line delivery to such lines as losing his 401K or the spelling of the word “sorority” provide lots of laughs.
Yes, is the answer here, in that there are plenty of good lines, explosive slapstick moments and the sheer joy of Zac Efron’s many talents.
Luckily, Zac Efron is on their side. I’ve never seen him in any significant role before, and he’s a wonderful revelation to me roughly four years after I suppose he was to everyone else. Constantly poking fun at his teen idol persona, he can do it all: the vulnerability of the dumb college jock suddenly without his support network (“Are we going to hang out after all this?” he suddenly asks Rogen, putting the skids masterfully on a big slapstick scene), physical comedy (more airbags; splendid receipt of a tyre in the face), sharp-as-a-tack line delivery. There is a great talent in looking like he does with his shirt off, still taking it off at every available opportunity, and retaining the sense of self-deprecation needed not to come off an absolute tool.
The one person who does change the most is Teddy, who seems positively grown up in his choices. Efron has great comic timing and by the end of the film Teddy has figured out what he wants to do with his life. So, basically the film is about the straight guy finding his place in the world despite the pesky feminists.
In addition, the characters are likeable and the core cast each deliver strong comic performances (though Moretz and co seem oddly subdued), with Efron and Rogen generating some particularly engaging chemistry.
That being said, the real comedic powerhouse in this film is Zac Efron. Since leaving college, Teddy has been cut adrift from everything which once defined him (except his looks, which he uses to incredible effect). His “brothers” have moved on to successful jobs or serious relationships. His party bro vibes are now seen as immature and his reluctance to let go of the past is catapulting him into a deep quarter-life crisis. It’s an old story, but Efron’s naive tragicomic performance makes it incredible endearing (my favourite scene in this movie is legitimately of Zac Efron failing to boil an egg).
Outside of his frat element, Efron embraces the darker aspect of his character: that of a non-self-starter who never bothered to learn life skills outside of being hot. It’s less of a commentary on Efron’s own career ambitions than it is the box that he found himself in. The man is great comedy support and should be treated as such; more movies like this will do him well.
Most importantly, it gives Efron his best role since Bad Neighbours. The man has his strengths, and Rogen, Byrne and Stoller are his friends.
Rogan, Byrne and Efron have once again brought their A-game and they bring the laughs thick and fast.
Speaking of dynamics, Rogen and Zac Efron also pick up right where they left off, with the two bouncing off one-another to create some hilarious comedy moments.
The other thing that I really enjoyed here was the performances. The first movie really proved how good a comedic actor Zac Efron is, and I’m delighted to say that he’s just as funny in the sequel. His character may not have as much to do, but when he gets the chance to really go mad, it’s hilarious to watch.
Zac Efron is the film's secret weapon, and he mounts one hell of a charm offensive here as the idiotic but ultimately loveable Teddy. The actor seems to have become a victim of the silly notion that good looking people can't act. A popular myth also exists that attractive folk aren't funny, but Efron displays far more comedic talent here than his more acknowledged co-star Seth Rogen, whose schtick increasingly seems to be based around the fact that he likes to get stoned. Having endured his back catalogue, I'd quite like to stone him myself.
Zac Efron does a great job as well proving that he is not just a fantastic set of abs.
But, every sequence with a combination of Rogen, Byrne and Efron is pure gold, whether it is Rogen and Byrne cluelessly navigating the unpredictable waters of parenthood – coming to the realisation that they cannot even control or influence one child, and are terrified about the other one on the way – or Rogen and Efron contemplating on the process of boiling an egg. Rogen has to be one of the most likeable comedic actors in the business. He is always on; and brilliantly riffs off the talents of his co-stars, including Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo (who return, and participate in memorable fashion again). Efron’s screen career continues to be fascinating, and while his talents come in may forms, it is a touch of genius that Stoller and his creative team has utilised his ridiculous good looks for comic benefit.
Moretz was good and calm as she was in Kick Ass but it was Zac Efron whose comedy growth becomes evident in this film—with or without his shirt, Zac has a way to get your attention.
A ridiculously handsome and suitably cock-sure Efron channels his inner Rob Lowe (and, to an extent, Channing Tatum), putting his wonderful comic timing to use for another rib-tickling lesson in faux self-deprecation. He also removes his shirt a lot. Stand him next to a manic Rogen, and sparks fly.
This sequel is trapped in a comedy cul-de-sac, despite the efforts of the charmingly hapless Zac Efron
Teddy (Zac Efron) returns, this time on the side of the “old people”, and his low- achieving haplessness and tendency to strip off result in some of the film’s most amusing moments.
Efron is actually funny in this as the man child that is Teddy, his simple look at life is endearing and comedic and it is nice to see the three main characters make up for the events of the first film.
Efron too plays the unexpectedly relatable role of a 20-something trying to find his place in the world. With the first film’s stars Dave Franco (Pete), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Scoonie) and Jerrod Carmichael (Garf) returning as Teddy’s former frat brothers who are each moving on with their lives by progressing in their careers and getting engaged, Teddy is left feeling undervalued and displaced as he falls back into doing what he knows best: throwing parties and planning pranks. This vulnerability is played off well in his relationship with Mac, giving a more nuanced edge to Teddy’s pretty, dumb, frat boy stereotype, and putting that lost time between college and ‘adulthood’ firmly in the spotlight.
In addition the transition from young man to adult is explored through the character of Teddy and highlights just how great Zac Efron can be as an actor.
One of those celebrating bros is Teddy, and he’s played, brilliantly, by Zac Efron, who has evolved not only into a terrific comedic performer but also a post-modern archetype: he is, at least in this movie, playing on two levels simultaneously, both as Teddy and as Zac Efron, gorgeous and ripped sex symbol, completely self-aware and yet completely committed to the surface performance. Thus we have him, at various times, ripping off his shirt for no reason, other than the reason we all actually know: he looks good with his shirt off and we want to see that.
All the cast play the roles adequately and once again the standout performance is Efron as the man-child Teddy. Efron’s career is going well and he’s finding some hidden depths in characters that could have been entirely one dimensional. True he will have to take his shirt off in every film he appears in for the rest of his natural life. But he proves yet again that he is a talented comedic actor and one who should be given more to do then gyrate on a stage (although a dance scene is pretty funny…).
Rogen, Byrne and Efron are as terrific as they were in the original - the latter, more jacked and ripped than before too. The chemistry between the cast is so great and only adds to the levity and the investment in the proceedings.
There are some genuinely funny moments in the movie that had me laughing out loud and in the main they came from Rose Byrne, Rogen and the brilliant [sic] Zak Efron.
The stand out character of Bad Neighbours 2 was Zak Efron. He’s turning into a brilliant comic actor and his timing, facial expressions and presence is all on point, pointing to a really promising, long career. If he wasn’t cast in the movie, I really think it’d be all the worse for his absence.
They're going to need a bigger steamboat partier and who better than Zac Efron? The protein packed pretty boy turned Channing Tatum good has had a lot to deal with from meatier roles ('The Paperboy' with McConaughey and...erm the forthcoming 'Baywatch' reboot with The Rock...the only man to make young Zac look like a piece of flint (I mean have you seen the 'Fast and Furious' films? He even makes Vin Diesel look like a pebble)), to Robert De Niro's crude and crass 'Bad (but oh so good) Grandpa' but he's still willing to vault over a barbecue in his speedos with a sack of skunk. I wonder if Bobby talked to you about that impression party from the first film Zac?! Either way you've never left our circle of trust.
Central to the film's success are some committed performances by the returning trio of Rogen, Byrne and Efron. The latter is a particular delight, sending up his own High School Musical heart-throb image with gleeful disdain.
The returning cast have great comic timing, and seem comfortable enough with one another to make it work. Effron's Teddy now strides the line between comedic and tragic, as the man stuck in his past glories, but is still mainly played for laughs.
The most outstanding thing from Bad Neighbours was watching Zac Efron show a propensity for comedy that had been previously hidden away, and here he is delightfully enjoyable, the one-time fraternity leader realising life isn’t one big party and is maybe passing him by.
Efron certainly plays on his physical attributes but it plays into the joke, whether it’s a dance routine designed to distract where the need for baby oil is satisfied by a barbecuing leg of meat, or the girls of the sorority accepting some of his more ludicrous statements because they enjoy looking at him.
He shows that comedy is definitely his forte, and while the material may not be overly demanding, Efron’s enjoyable turn is a highlight.
Bad Neighbours 2 manages to maintain some charm and goodwill thanks to the likes of Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and MVP Zac Efron, but an awkward feminist message feels out of place and while the jokes are diverting enough, it doesn’t ever truly hit the heights.
This is helped again by the performances of the three leads. Rose Byrne isn't given as much to do this time around but she makes the absolute most of what she has, while Rogan and Efron are just as great a double act as they were last time. Comedy performances can be difficult to pull off with an uneven script, but these three do fantastic jobs from the word go.
Rogen and Byrne have a great comedic chemistry and their millennial angst over becoming the old people has mostly subsided here, with that focus resting more on Teddy, whose struggle to transition into real adulthood is really the through line of both Bad Neighbours films. Efron is fantastic in the role – surely his best – and uses his looks, physicality and comic timing to great effect here.
First and foremost though this is a comedy with laughs that mostly hit the mark. Zac Efron is in fine form here threatening to steal the limelight from other more experienced comedic actors. Teddy Sanders is childlike with his lack of self-awareness and refusal to move on. The best laughs of the film come from Efron and I’d happily watch a spin off featuring Teddy and his new career (Oh I won’t spoil that here).
As for Zac Efron, he is evolving away from the moppety creature we first knew, into a self-aware twentysomething with a touch of player-sleaze. That’s got potential, but a sustained script is what he needs. It’s not forthcoming here.
As for Efron, whose torso now looks as though he could iron his own shirts on it, his fresh crisis as Teddy, along with being unemployed, is having two male buddies who’d rather move in together – yep, they’ve come out as gay – than continue to share their flat with him. He’s the loneliest hot jock in the world, which is why Moretz and co take him under their wing – it’s certainly more that than the other way round.
The film does a better job developing his character than Rogen’s Mac, but only just: he’s required to switch sides in the conflict, bare his abs as a mass distraction (“I’m a human woman!”, wails one intended victim) and weepily confess his vulnerabilities.
Zac Efron and series new-comer, Chloe Grace Moretz, rely on how young and attractive they are, but still get small moments to demonstrate their value outside of that.
Efron though is sadly is the odd-man out here, with the script really struggling to find a place for him that isn’t the token “hot piece” of the film. While he gets a few decent scenes with fellow returnee Dave Franco, the film wrestles back and forth with ideas as to where to take the character but for the most part he feels rather perfunctory and you wonder whether an extended cameo may have served him a little better. That said, some of the films more touching moments come from his evolving friendship with Rogen.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller, there are just enough belly-laughs to be had, with solid performances from Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron.
Rogen, Byrne and Efron give good performances, despite some undercooked material. Efron is proving to have potential in the field of comedy – this has been noted by myself (Dirty Grandpa) and by my esteemed colleague Kevin Hawkins (Bad Neighbours). Here he is underutilised and a little lacklustre, but this has more to do with the material than his performance. Efron is a good sparring partner to the more seasoned Rogen and the immaculate Byrne.
There’s some funny slapstick beats as the warring parties batter each other into submission, and Efron gets some good lines as the gormless Teddy (“Why would it make eggs hard?” he gasps as Mac boils a saucepan of water, “It makes pasta soft”), but it’s more of the same, only with some half-cooked ideas about feminism chucked in. In a comedy where the merest sight of Efron’s oiled pecs reduces grown woman to helpless gawping, it’s an odd blend.
Meanwhile, there's a strange exhaustion in the air, as both Teddy and Mac seem tired of all of this nonsense. Efron and Rogen play the roles with impeccable timing, but both seem aware that they've already pushed these characters as far as they possibly can.
Rogen and Byrne play off each other as well as before, and Efron still proves he’s an unbelievably good comedy talent, even if Teddy this time round is played far too much like an idiot.
Efron is passable, although he hasn’t done enough yet to make me forget about the thoroughly reprehensible Dirty Grandpa.
Zac Efron is now utterly typecast but I doubt he’ll care if his movies keep packing out cinemas across the world. Despite his usual reliable performances, he’s starting to look a little older than his ‘frat boy’ characters would have you believe and if he can’t shake off that tag, he’ll end up in the bargain bins alongside Tobey Maguire. That’s a shame, as his more serious roles prove he has the acting chops to go with his good looks.