Seth Rogen’s follow up to 2014’s surprise hit Neighbors gets the entire gang back together. This time around, the experienced antics of the Delta Psi guys are replaced by the upstart shenanigans of a fledgling sorority.
Three girls, Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) have decided that they want to start their own sorority. They’re all new at college, but they don’t like the uptight atmosphere of the soririties they visit and they don’t like going to fraternity parties that have an openly mysoginistic and rape-y atmosphere. They happen to get shown the house that belonged to the Delta Psi brothers in the previous movie. While they’re there, they meet Teddy (Zac Efron) who’s feeling down on himself because his friend’s lives are moving forward and he feels like he’s going nowhere. Wanting to feel valued, he offers his services to the girls to help them set up and fund their new sorority, Kappa Nu (god help any sorority that actually has that designation).
This is not great news for Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), who are expecting their second child and are looking to move out of the neighborhood. They have a potential buyer for the house, but the sale is in escrow. This means that the buyers have 30 days to inspect the house and back out of the sale. So, having a sorority move in next door, aided by their old nemesis, is a very big problem for them. Having experienced this before, they quickly engage in a prank war with the ladies of Kappa Nu, in the hopes of getting them kicked out of the house. After the girls pushed into a corner, they decide to make their money back by selling pot at an upcoming tailgate. When Teddy objects to the idea, they fire him. That leads Teddy to side with the Radners against the sorority.
Like the first movie, there’s a lot of back and forth between the sides and things lead up to Kappa Nu needing to throw a big party in order to make ends meet and the Radners needing the party to fail. Aided by Teddy and some previous experience, they’re actually able to get the sorority to turn against itself. However, with one daughter and another one on the way, they feel bad about trashing these girls dreams and inspire them to get their act together. The end result is the girls renting the Radner’s house as an overflow party house. With the battle over, Teddy finds his calling as an event planner for gay weddings and starts it off with the wedding of his best friend, Pete (Dave Franco). And, the Radners are left to have their second child in a peaceful suburb with no neighbors in sight.
This is a movie that has a really strong, but strange, message of equality. Haphazardly revealing that Pete is gay/bisexual and getting married to a man, and replacing the fraternity with a sorority puts some underrepresented demographics at the forefront of a comedy. The best part is that the movie does it in a way that’s not preachy or patting itself on the back for being inclusive. The unexpected (and still great) part is that these characters are brought in and required to be just as filthy and debauched as their counterparts from the first movie. Neighbors 2 exchanges dildos being mass produced for bloody tampons being hurled at a house. Remaining amazingly low brow while providing an example of progressive casting.
Unfortunately, the individual actors aren’t given much time to shine in a movie that feels so fast and superficial that it’s reminiscent of a youtube video. There are a few moments or jokes where individuals shine. The character Christine (played by rapper Awkwafina) stands out delivering oddball one-liners throughout the movie. Efron and Rogen keep their chemistry from the first movie while Efron stands out on screen. There’s actually points where Efron’s acting is so good/intense that it feels like it doesn’t fit in the movie. Really, most of the returning characters match their performances from the first movie, there just isn’t as much of them in this movie. The character that probably suffers the most from the movie’s style is Shelby (Moretz). Her character is in the same spot that Efron’s was in the first movie, but there’s much less development of her character. Instead, she just seems to be whatever she needs to be for the current bit to be funny. In the beginning of the movie she’s a party girl/stoner but, when they’re forming the sorority she’s a loner with no friends, later when they have to chase down Efron, she becomes an all state athlete. Even though she suffered the most, she wasn’t the only character to suffer from the movie’s erratic storytelling.
Of course, this is a movie that’s about jokes, not storytelling. Each scene is almost a contained skit within itself, designed to deliver a specific joke without many jokes running throughout the movie (except for a weird thing with a guy wearing a clown mask for some reason). Even though this doesn’t sound like a good thing, it absolutely works for this movie. It knows what people are coming to the theater for and doesn’t complicate that. It’s like watching a stand-up routine in movie form. You just flow from one joke to another without worrying about where it’s going or where it’s been. If you were a fan of the first one, this one is definitely worth seeing.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
- Lots of jokes and a quick pace
- The entire cast seems to work well together
- A movie that demonstrates equality without preaching about it
- Relies on some gross humor
- Movie is too fast, feels hurried and short
- You do need to see the first movie before seeing this one