Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Selena Gomez, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lisa Kudrow

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is that sequel that you didn’t really expect to happen after the first film ended. This film is proof it still isn’t necessary despite the huge box office draw of the first film. The last time we saw Kelly (Byrne) and Mac (Rogen) Radner they made peace with frat boy Teddy (Efron) and his clan of partygoers. Everyone seems to be moving on from their days of ruining each other’s lives. Teddy is at a crossroads as he is still working in retail and can’t get a new job. He also finds himself kicked out of his house when his best friend Pete (Franco) gets engaged to his boyfriend. Surprise! The writing team decided to have Pete come out and is in a stable and healthy relationship. Apparently, this is the first gay character in a Nicholas Stoller film. Kelly and Mac are pregnant with their second daughter and have sold their house on frat row. There’s one little slip-up when they remember that their current house is in escrow for thirty days. During that time a new sorority moves in next door, which could ruin their chances of moving out if the new owners don’t want to live next to a sorority. Chloë Grace Moretz is new to the film as Shelby, the head of the Kappa Nu sorority. They still party pretty hard with their themes of strong feminism versus the standard frat parties filled with debauchery. At first Teddy joins the girls in their fight against Kelly and Mac, but he quickly switches to Team Parenthood where he feels the most welcomed.

A majority of the original cast is back including: Efron, Rogen, Byrne, Franco and Ike Barinholtz and Kiersey Clemons as Kelly and Mac’s friends who help them in their fight against the sorority. Selena Gomez plays an opposing sorority sister to Moretz’s character, but her appearance could be classified as a glorified cameo with her ten minutes of screen time. Many of Teddy’s friends pop up for quick appearances including Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jerrod Carmichael. Dave Franco’s character is given that small subplot of being engaged in the movie and it’s a way to give him some context and expand on the friendship between him and Teddy.

Like you would expect, the film is basically a carbon copy of the first one. Let’s be real. How do you really take this story in a new direction outside of swapping the genders of the college kids? The film boasts a whopping FIVE screenwriters, including director Nicholas Stoller and star Seth Rogen. It’s evident with how loose it all comes together. There are plenty of recycled jokes and bits from the first in terms of the physical gags of causing harm to each side. Think Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass in terms of the surprise stunts involved. It definitely plays into the dumbest jokes making it more stupid funny versus clever funny. Should I have laughed? No, but I did from time to time. Some of the best moments come from Rose Byrne as it’s such a treat to see her get down and dirty in comparison to the prim and proper Rose Byrne we expect from her.

I found the first film to be quite funny in its shock humor approach and the way it attempted to have a deeper meaning. Like the first one, Neighbors 2 attempts to have some messages by the end of it. The sorority sisters come to realize what it means to be true to yourself and the real definition of sisterhood and brotherhood. There’s also the discussion of the sexism and misogyny regarding how fraternities are treated versus sororities. There’s a nice go at social issues, but it feels like a stretch in an attempt to give the film some sort of reason to exist outside of bringing in easy money for the studio.

In theory if I enjoyed the first film as much as I did, I should still get arise out of this one. I probably would have if it didn’t all feel so lazy and haphazardly put together. Yes, there is plenty of eye candy for Zac Efron fans. He continues his string of shirtless performances. I’m not complaining. There is one scene, especially noteworthy, when he attempts a Magic Mike inspired dance routine in an attempt to distract the sorority sisters from their prized stash of marijuana. Ripped body aside, he can play a dopey frat guy really well. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising isn’t the worst comedy of the year as there some genuine laughs to be had. Just imagine the fun that can be had when a toddler finds her mom’s vibrator and dresses it up like a doll. If you find that your eyes rolling to the back of your head, I can understand where you’re coming from. This film isn’t for everyone. That is one of the more harmless bits. All in all too much of it felt a bit half-assed from a majority of those involved. Again I ask and wonder why a comedy needs five screenwriters and why that does not equal to five times the fun.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It’s nowhere near as funny, raunchy, or consistent as the first one.


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