Okay Hollywood, we need to have a chat. We need to talk about your need to make comedy sequels that need not exist, because the ones that do generally suck. Case in point: Neighbors 2.
To fill in those who don’t know, the Neighbors franchise follows new parents Mac(Seth Rogen) and Kelly(Rose Byrne) in their fight for supremacy, and a good nights sleep, against the Greek life housed next door. The first film they faced down Teddy(Zac Efron) and the Delta Psi Beta fraternity, and in the second they faced down Shelby(Chloe Grace Moretz) and the Kappa Nu sorority, after the group refuse to quiet down so Kelly and Mac can sell their house.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising follows the same formula as the first. The couple tries to come to an agreement with the group, group refuses and war commences. What worked once, doesn’t work again, however much the cast tries to sell it. Zac Efron especially shines in this lackluster film, as Teddy searches for value in his life after leaving the fraternity and college. He does finally find it by the end, in a round about way that includes a way with a sorority, teaming up with old enemies, and getting through a bit of a best friend crisis. Chloe Grace Moretz also manages to bring some life to her character as the cunning head of the new sorority.
The biggest issue with Neighbors 2 is its lack of fluidity in its storyline. The movie progresses like a bunch of skits cut together into feature length, with no real continuity to provide a tissue as we jump from one antic to the next. This creates a rather jarring viewing, leaving the audience with the sense that they missed something.
Neighbors 2 also attempts, I think, to engage in the gender equality issue. It just doesn’t commit enough to succeed at it. Teddy is told that women don’t like to be called “hoes”, a revelation for him, but even the girls search for “equality” is just to be allowed to party as much as the boys, without the stigma. What adds insult to injury is that the screenwriters depict Greek life as a cesspool of drinking and sex, without the values that many of these organization hold up as guiding lights to their chapters. While I will admit that is a part of Greek life, since no stereotype is unfounded, by refusing to engage in the deeper meaning of the connections forged through the Greek system, the movie remains a heartless bid to get us to pay money to see it.
Which I don’t recommend.
PS: opening the movie with Rose Byrne throwing up on Seth Rogen was not the way to set the tone AT ALL. Gross out humor is cringeworthy, not laugh worthy.