FILM REVIEW
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, and Rose Byrne in Nicholas Stoller's Neighbors 2. Image © Universal Pictures

Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, and Rose Byrne in Nicholas Stoller's Neighbors 2. Image © Universal Pictures

I know sequels aren’t very popular right now, what with the commercial and critical flops of films like Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, 300: Rise of an Empire, and The Huntsman: Winter’s War.  But don’t forget that sometimes a sequel comes along that takes the original source material and improves upon it.  This is how films like The Purge: Anarchy happen, a great movie that just happens to be the sequel to a boring, kinda crappy film.  

Yeah, sometimes a sequel is pretty damn awesome.  But sometimes it’s enough for a sequel not to suck.  This is what Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising did.  It didn’t raise up the genre but it won’t disappoint fans of the original.  (Did I get your hopes up a little bit there?  C’mon, you can admit it.)

Taking place a few years after the original, Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are looking to sell their house and move into something nicer.  They’ve got a very nice couple who are interested in buying it, but first the house has to go on escrow for 30 days.  If you, like Mac and Kelly, don’t know what escrow is, the film definition is that the buyers can back out anytime before the final purchase.

Yes, 30 days before the sale is final!  Nothing can go wrong for 30 days or they will be stuck with two houses and two mortgages!

So of course something goes wrong.  College freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) discovers that sororities are not nearly as cool as she had hoped they would be and decides to start her own with new friends Beth (Kiersy Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein).  Conveniently, there’s a house on the market.  

Yes, that house is the old frat house next door that was the whole cause of the first film.  The downside is that the girls do not have nearly enough capital to pay the $5,000/mo rent.  The upside is that Teddy (Zac Efron) happens to hear their plight and offers to help them secure the funding.

Then of course, shit hits the fan as the married couple find they must once again go to war with Teddy.  That’s all I’m going to say about the film itself because, while still a relatively basic comedic plot it does have a few funny twists.

I really do like Zac Efron in comedies but I’m coming to believe that, while he is obviously game for whatever it takes to be funny, he needs good writing or he’s just a relatively funny kid in a cruddy movie (exhibit A: Dirty Grandpa).  Fortunately, this film delivers plenty of opportunities to the point that he’s probably the highlight of the film.

That’s not to take away from everyone else, as everyone gets a chance to shine, but Mr. Efron is easily the best part of Neighbors 2.  It was nice to see Chloe Moretz do a little more comedic acting and I think this, coupled with the more ‘humorous’ parts of Kick-ass demonstrate that she’s got pretty good range.  Seth Rogen is going to be as funny or not-funny as you usually think he is, dear reader, which seems to be a pretty even split across all demographics.

Personally I enjoyed it to the point that I actually laughed.  Not just a chuckle here and there, but full, throaty laughs at several parts.  It did go too far with the gross-out humor at several points but the were enough clever moments to make me walk out of the theater with a positive attitude towards it all.

Is it an amazing comedy?  No.  Do I think it will be the best comedy of 2016?  I actually hope it isn’t.  But it was fun and it was funny and sometimes that’s enough.


Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller

Written by: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O'Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Running time: 92 minutes