Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Screenwriter: Seth Rogen, Nicholas Stoller, Evan Goldberg, Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, ChloÃ« Grace Moretz, Beanie Feldstein, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated R | 92 Minutes
Release Date: May 20, 2016
It’s hard to believe that a comedy sequel could actually be any good whatsoever. Repetition is the proverbial weapon of choice that so often kills a comedy sequel. It’s not even a question of making it greater than its predecessor but if such a thing is even necessary to begin with. For Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, there are a few concerns, sure, no film is without flaw, but Nicholas Stoller brings us something that is still funny and manages to maintain that sharp wit and hilarious chemistry between the cast members all the while adding new elements and even addressing a few serious social issues that affect us today.
The film centers on Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) having to move and put their house in escrow when they find out that they are having a second child. When college freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) establishes a new sorority, Kappa Nu, with Nora (Beanie Feldstein) and Beth (Kiersey Clemons) right next door, Mac and Kelly recruit Teddy (Zac Efron) to their team to battle the sorority sisters and prevent the buyers from pulling out.
There is so much more to this than just a simple sequel, in fact, the progressive film addresses a couple of serious social issues that affect some of us today. One subject is that Pete (Dave Franco) is gay, and he asks Teddy to move out so that he and his fiance can have more room. The situation forces Teddy to mature as a person, but he will struggle to do so given that he is a convicted criminal and works at a dead-end job when bosses younger than him go on vacations more than him.
The fact that the sequel also deals with feminism was very unexpected. But they deal with it in a very graceful and respectful way with such levity that it never once mocks the characters’ plight. You see, Shelby learns that not only can sororities not throw their party, but must submit to the preconceived notions that sorority sisters are invited to go frat parties for one reason. So Shelby, Nora, and Beth, reject the idea of “super-rapey frats,” and successfully establish their own sorority where they can throw their own parties and express their ideas freely.
Teddy is dealing with his own set of problems as he is trying to find out what his value in life is, an issue that millennials often deal with. So the film explores his struggles and resolves it in a meaningful way.
Meanwhile, Mac and Kelly begin to question whether or not they can be good parents to their kids, and with another child on the way, they begin to worry if they will ever be able to mature as adults who cannot seem to let go of their previous life.
Comedy sequels often fall victim to being too repetitive and unoriginal, however, Neighbors 2 is able to weave in some of the previous jokes with the serious social issues seamlessly and without effort. That is what makes the sequel so much better than its predecessor. It is its willingness to acknowledge itself by recognizing where it came from by reusing some of those gags while bringing about original subplots that the audience would never expect to see in the sequel.
The chemistry remains strong with the returning cast, and gets even funnier with the new additions who also have strong chemistry between each other. The sexist and ageist jokes are hilarious and well-earned, and none of them ever feel forced. Well there’s one moment where it does considering it looks like it was shot in front of a green screen, but that’s just a minor problem as the build up and execution of the joke had me in stitches. Mac and Kelly remain the comedic couple that aren’t fully committed to being adults despite having a kid already. They still enjoy wearing t-shirts, smoking bongs, and using sex toys. Their lack of understanding basic rules of escrow shows just how they aren’t ready for adulthood yet.
Efron’s character also goes through some growth as he finds his place or as he puts it, his “value” in the world. He attempts to get his vengeance on the Randers by supporting Kappa Nu, only to be ousted by them through a voting committee done via text conversations. It is something that will get more laughs if you watch rather than if I describe it in this review.
Then there are the newcomers, Moretz, Clemons, and Feldstein. All have great chemistry. Moretz and Clemons have some experience, but it is Feldstein who provides some scene stealing roles that has her doing some great physical comedy. The young actress is actually the younger sister of Jonah Hill.
It’s very refreshing to see a comedy sequel willing to do something different. Neighbors 2 doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but it has fun finding new ways to spin it.