Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising 2016.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller.
Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Selena Gomez, Carla Gallo and Lisa Kudrow.
When their new next-door neighbors turn out to be a sorority even more debaucherous than the fraternity previously living there, Mac and Kelly team with their former enemy, Teddy, to bring the girls down.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a blindsiding comedy sequel, not just because it is surprisingly a much more enjoyable film than its predecessor from 2014, but for the fact that its crowded team of five different writers actually managed to tell a follow-up story layered with social commentary on hot topics such as feminism, equality and double standards. Of course, all of this is done featuring loads of juvenile shenanigans that are both to be expected. and downright fun to watch. However, the point is that director Nicholas Stoller and his numerous writers (again, there are five, and it’s amazing that with so many minds pitching ideas that the final product is actually something cohesive) didn’t have to put the amount of thought into the movie.
On paper, this is your average generic comedy sequel cash-in, but in execution it is something much more interesting and relevant; one of the better Seth Rogen films out there while easily being the best thing Zac Efron has ever done (then again, realistically speaking here, all we really have to compare against is complete utter garbage like Dirty Grandpa). Naturally, many of the fan favorite characters from the original return (Rose Byrne is back portraying Rogen’s wife, Dave Franco steals the few scenes he is in, etc), but the real addition here comes from the gender role reversal of the basic plot, which now sees Chloe Grace Moretz heading up a sorority that parties hard like a fraternity, raging against the machine, because apparently sororities aren’t even allowed to throw their own parties. Sexist Greeks!
Obviously, this is a very refreshing and different role for Moretz, and she does stumble here and there unable to truly hang on a comedic level with the trio of Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne, but thankfully a lot of the dialogue she is given rings true, actually providing some meaning to the chaotic over-indulgence in debauchery. For example, there is a scene where the young college freshmen launch (I could be wrong on what this actually was) a bunch of bloody tampons (the girls insist the blood was real) at the family next door we know so well, to which Zac Efron’s character is repulsed and disgusted, while Moretz’s character fires back saying if it were a bag of dicks, then everything would be hysterical. Zac Efron, much like everyone else watching the movie, takes around 15 seconds to think about it, coming to the conclusion that the women are right.
On the flipside, the arc of Zac Efron’s character, which generally sees him wishing he were valued by his peers (things don’t go so well with his buddies), showcases all of the women around him viewing him as a sexpot only useful for his body. At one point, he distracts all of the girls just by dancing shirtless. Most importantly, some of the people that will enjoy everything written in the paragraph above may have an ax to grind here, but again, that is the beauty of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. It isn’t afraid at all to take the immaturity of college partying and break it down to the simple fact that deep down, it’s full of stupidity on both genders.
While it is a pleasant surprise that Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising has something to say about gender equality, unfortunately the actual jokes of the movie are hit and miss. Many of them simply rely on callbacks to past characters or gags in the first movie, essentially not feeling well-thought out. With the exception of Zac Efron, even the character motivations and basic plot are a retread, which is a bit disappointing. Sure, the airbag joke at the end gets a big laugh, but there is creativity noticeably missing this time around in favor of just sticking with what worked. The funniest aspect of the movie is honestly watching Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne basically be horrible parents, letting their infant daughter play with a vibrator.
Still, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising consistently gets more right than wrong, flying by at 96 minutes with some good laughs here and there. It’s a very rare Seth Rogen movie that is to be admired for the themes behind the movie rather than the actual typical juvenile humor.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★