MOVIE: NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING
STARRING: SETH ROGAN; ROSE BYRNE; CHLOE GRACE MORETZ; ZAC EFRON
DIRECTED BY: NICHOLAS STOLLER
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
If you are one of the “bros” who refuse to see the new Ghostbusters movie due to an all female cast, then I can't wait to see your reaction after a viewing of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. The follow up to the 2014 hit-comedy is a bit more of the same in plot, but has a crisp sense of humor rising the material above a standard comedy. The cute couple and their baby (Seth Rogan & Rose Byrne) must now battle with a wild sorority as neighbors instead of a fraternity. It works more this time, with an energetic sass and funny female spin, while highlighting the hypocrisy of the typical male dominated raunch fest's that have cornered the comedy genre in recent past.
We fast forward to a few years after the first installment, as Mac (Rogan) and Kelly Radner have outgrown their home with a second child on the way. They are in a 30 day period of escrow and to keep up appearances, Mac must hide his plethora of bongs littered around the house. Meanwhile, former frat boy Teddy (Zac Efron) is dealing with life after college, where his best friend Pete (Dave Franco) has found his husband to marry, leaving pathetic Teddy without a place to live. Enter a trio of freshman, lead by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) attempting to pledge to the pristine sorority at their new college, only to find out that it is against the rules for sororities to throw parties (No, seriously look it up. It's an actual rule). This prompts them to start a liberated sorority- Kappa Nu, where they just so happen to find the place next door to the Radner's still available to rent with Teddy sleeping in the abandoned house, giving him the opportunity to mentor the ladies to smoke weed and enjoy college on their terms.
It's quite interesting to see a movie where Seth Rogan is the “grown-up” in the bunch. Sure, the Knocked Up star still brings light to his love of marijuana and wears his Pearl Jam t-shirts, but as far as the chemistry goes between Rogan and Byrne, it's adorable on an equal level. When the kids move in, the stress levels rise, so they politely ask them to just “be cool” for the thirty days. This leads to a reverse effect as the Kappa's claim- “it's on”. They throw parties dressed up as Joan of Ark, and three different versions of Hillary Clinton. They paint profane words on the walls of the Radner's home, and throw used tampons at their enemies windows. Now, just when you think they are attempting gross out humor, the smart script by Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O'Brien, Rogen, and Evan Goldberg is quick to point out the sexist nature to how we're not offended by the male anatomy.
The problems with Neighbors 2 are minimal. It does have the rehashed gag of the airbags being used for a predictable pratfall and lacks total commitment to allow the female characters to be the stars that they are. Those squabbles are little, especially in a perfectly constructed sequence involving a weed bake sale at a tailgate, Zac Efron oiled up with chicken grease, and a chase with my favorite Beastie Boys song “Sabotage” on in the background. If I had it my way, every movie would fit in “Sabotage.”
It was a welcoming surprise how much I enjoyed Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. The charisma of Rogan, Byrne, Efron, and Moretz keeps the laughs light hearted, the women in a position of power, and is absent of a heavy handed agenda on top of it. I laughed and I laughed often. This movie proves that stupid comedies can also be smart. Neighbors 2 is one of the best comedies of 2016.
Written by: Leo Brady