‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’ hosts a less funny, more vulgar block party
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, and Chloe Grace Moretz
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” – In today’s housing market, home prices have steadily risen, and thankfully, millions of previously underwater homeowners are now treading water or happily swimming in the financial black. Even more thankfully, for those looking to buy a home or refinance their current one, interest rates sit at near record lows and are basically dirt cheap. Although “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” - the sequel to the very funny 2014 Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy - does not hit record lows, it feels cheap.
In “Neighbors” (2014), Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) and their baby fought with wild fraternity members who lived next door.
The Radners won!
The sequel picks up a few years later, and Mac and Kelly live next to a vacant and quiet fraternity house. With another baby on the way, they decide to buy a bigger house in the suburbs and accepted an offer on their current home. As long as their place passes inspection and the new owners are satisfied by the end of the 30-day escrow period, Mac and Kelly are “home free”. Very soon after – in the most unfortunate timing that can only exist in the movies – three girls rent the former fraternity house to start their new sorority, Kappa Nu. Now, the previously happy couple must begin a new struggle (although just a 30-day one) against loud college kids, and the “twist” is that they declare war on coeds.
After sitting through this 1 hour 32 minute picture, the movie’s nuance seems infinitesimal, and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” feels like a lazy, less funny and more vulgar repeat of its predecessor. First of all, the sequel recycles the overall narrative and individual plot points, as the Radners and kids predictably volley between point and counterpoint, and once Mac and Kelly cause financial hardships for the sorority, tensions escalate into some ugliness
Obviously, Mac and Kelly feel weary about figuratively duking it out with another set of college-aged neighbors. Despite some admittedly entertaining moments involving a plan to steal a giant stash of pot, Efron’s amusing return as Teddy and a few likeable girl-power sequences with Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), I was tired of (and bored with) the same exact story as well, and – although I did not count the jokes - the movie simply felt less funny. Now, “The Hangover Part II” (2011) is probably the worst offender – in recent memory - of repeating its original film’s story arc, but this movie is a close second.
Hence, the script turns unnecessarily distasteful at random times that beg for – the aforementioned – cheap laughs. For instance, in the opening scene, Mac and Kelly are having sex, and she feels a bit nauseous. Their moment is ruined when she throws up all over his face. The five writers – including Rogen and Evan Goldberg – could have concocted a dozen ways to stifle the intimacy, but they chose vomit, because vomit is funny. (Well, not at that moment, actually.) The script also calls for two wholly unflattering shots of male nudity and the partial birth of a newborn that probably meant to elicit laughter but instead, generated plenty of groans from the audience.
I am perfectly fine with vulgarity and far from a rated-R killjoy, but the movie delivered these scenes like a real estate agent pushing a house with an outdated kitchen, faulty foundation and old roof. I should not discount the entire film, because if you have not seen “Neighbors” (2014), this movie might certainly feel fresh and original, and it is good to see cinematic, female leads stand up for themselves.
If you have seen “Neighbors” - and you must see this film - maybe wait until “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” hits the rental market or finds itself on the movie channels. Hey, it takes one to know one, and you’ll be getting off cheap. (1.5/4 stars)