New release Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising drew in less than half the revenue that its 2014 original raked in. Bad Neighbours 1, starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Dave Franco and Rose Byrne, follows a couple who come into conflict with a fraternity that has recently moved in next door. It was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $270 million worldwide. But one thing obvious about the film is the sexist attitude the frat boys possess and their sexual objectification towards women. Unlike Bad Neighbours 1, which revolved around the sexist presumptions of frat boys, Bad Neighbours 2 is fuelled by the rejection of that sexism by three freshmen college girls.
The three main characters – Shelby, Beth and Nora, attend their first frat party, which, to their dismay, is at a house that has a ‘no means yes’ banner on display. After shortly ditching the ‘rapey’ party, they soon discover, to their horror, that sororities aren’t allowed to throw parties in their houses, forcing them to hang out at frats, where they are judged on their looks and treated like meat. Rather than subjecting themselves to the sexual objectification of guys at frat parties, the empowered freshmen decide to form their own sorority to fight against this.
Bad Neighbours 2 is refreshingly radical in its underlying message that women can do whatever they want, even if that means getting drunk and partying way too hard. Despite showing clips that would suggest physical attractiveness is an ultimate quality desired by the men in the movie, the film takes a deliberate shift in perspective to give women a legitimate voice, while intensely focusing the laughs at the frat boys that were the focus of the first movie. It revolves around themes including feminism, gender equality, friendship and empowerment, a high contrast to the sexist first movie. In rightly shutting down men’s sexual objectification of women, and women’s uncomplaining endurance of it in the interest of social acceptance, Bad Neighbours 2 envisions a segregation of the sexes that, while aimed at breaking the unquestioned cycle of a sexualised social life, pushes aside the theme of sex itself, showing that #SheIsMoreThan.
So did Bad Neighbours 1 achieve double the success of its sequel because of the increased nudity, sex and attractive women drawing in audiences? Or is it simply because most sequels tend to do worse than the original movie?
Have you seen the Bad Neighbours sequel yet? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!
– S x