Director: Nicholas Stoller
Screenwriters: Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogan
Cast: Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Ike Barinholtz
I mentioned in my 2014 review for Neighbors that while I liked the film, “we may be starting to see Rogan start drawing from the bottom of the well.” Now 2 years later the follow up to that film seems to confirm my assumption. The good news is that Neighbors and its sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising fill a niche, namely the simple comedy. Oddly enough, the traditional, simple, laugh-out-loud comedy is a dying breed. Theatrical comedy is hitting such a level of broadness that if I see one more stupid, pointless buddy comedy, the eyeroll may be so intense I may never recover. Seriously think about the last film that made you laugh in the theater that didn’t have superheroes or Kevin Hart teamed up with a white guy. It’s tough. You’re likely to arrive at Spy or Trainwreck. So basically, it’s been a year since you laughed at a comedy in the theater. That alone is reason enough to go see Neighbors 2.
Rogan is back as Mac Radner who along with his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) and daughter Stella (Still played by those adorable twins Elise and Zoey Vargas) are finally getting out from under the tough times that ensued from living next to a fraternity. They have managed to sell their house and are looking forward to living in the suburbs as they welcome their next child. Unfortunately, the sale of the Radner’s house must go through an escrow period where the buyer can back out if any issues arise, and guess what…they do. College freshman Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her friends dissatisfied with the antiquated and sexist ways of traditional sorority culture have decided to create their own independent sorority. Where you may ask? In a recently vacated property right next to good old Mac Radner’s house. In need of guidance, Shelby happens upon disgraced former president of Delta Psi Beta, Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), who is feeling the sting of a criminal record due to the consequences of his war with the Radners. Teddy agrees to mentor Shelby and her friends as a way to feel valued but also as a way to get revenge on those Radners! Before you say, “Here we go again,” just know that this time it’s girls instead of guys, so it’s different. Anyway, here we go again!
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising hits most of the same beats as its predecessor, but that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. It’s not as effective as the first film, but it does generate some genuine laughs and manages to be successful as just a simple routine comedy, nothing more. One thing that does feel odd is the lengths the film goes to in order ensure that you know the filmmakers are not being sexist. I mean if I’m looking for a movie with a message, normally I don’t look to a Seth Rogan movie. But here I am getting a pretty sizable one about the rape culture of college campuses in the guise of an updated Feminine Mystique via unchartered sororities. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a fine message, but then why even invoke the Greek life at all? Why do these girls need a sorority to have their sense of value? Also, there is not ONE mention of “going to class” or “getting an education” in this film, so let’s ease off on the pretense that there’s any kind of message here. This is all simply a bold shout out by the five male writers that they are not misogynists.
Ok, so with that said, Neighbors 2 is a fine comedic installment that gets the job done when it comes to relatable, breezy humor. No need to “rush” out to see it, but if you want to laugh and learn how escrow works, then this may be the film for you! B
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is rated R and has a running time of 1 hour and 37 minutes.