Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Review
NEIGHBORLY WARFARE (PART DEUX)
Frat comedies, a subgenre to “comedy movies”, have been timeless in their own right. Filled with humorous pranks, frat boys, and riffing on college aspect (as well as Greek life), the movies have been time-honored tradition to watch, with notable ones including National Lampoon’s Animal House, Van Wilder, Old school, and Accepted. Back in 2014, Nicholas Stoller’s raunchy comedy Neighbors joined the ranks of those such movies, fueling the college frat house pranks with neighborly mayhem to the proceedings. While there were some mixed feelings about the movie, Neighbors did make $270 million at the box office worldwide, which is pretty good for a film that only costed $18 million to make. Two years later, the gang returns to the big screen for another round of Greek Life vs. Parenthood in the comedy sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Does this second installment prove to be better than first or is it a bad sequel that didn’t need to be made?
Married couple, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are expecting their second child. With their upcoming new additional to their family, the couple is ready to relocate to the suburbs, leaving behind their first starter home and the bad memories that linger there. If only they can survive their 30-days in escrow. Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) eager college freshman that are looking to avoid the sexually charged antics of a traditional sorority life. Challenging the status-quo of Greek college life, the three friend establish their own sorority sisterhood naming it “Kappa Nu”. Renting the house next door to Mac and Kelly, the trio create a haven for partying and shenanigans, horrifying their recently new neighbors who want to protect their peaceful property image until their sale goes through. Learning that their former frat savant neighbor Teddy (Zac Efron) is the main creative competent behind Kappa Nu, Mac and Kelly are reunited with their old rival, who is battling is own demons, and team up to take down this new sisterhood creation,
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Like many who like raunchy comedy movies, I did see Neighbors in theaters. I remember seeing the trailer for the movie and thought “Man, this looks funny as S**t!”. Sure enough, there was plenty of raunchy “laugh-out-loud” moments in the film, but was still dragged down by uneven pacing and its hodgepodge of storytelling (at least that’s what I thought). Still, Neighbors had enough creative and funny scenarios for me to like the movie (overall) and purchase it on Blu-Ray. When I saw the trailer for Neighbors 2, I laughed hysterically at all the jokes and gags that they displayed and yet, still had lingering doubts if the will follow the same path as its predecessor (both its high and low points). Knowing that I went to see Neighbors 2 with optimism, looking for a fun comedy movie. In truth, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, while being problematic by being too similar to its first movie, is slightly better than its predecessor.
What also makes Neighbors 2 interesting is that there’s no clear “bad guy” or “villain” of the movie. Yes, both sides (the Radners and the Kappa Nu’s) are both subjective, more or less, right in their stances. The girls of Kappa Nu want to change the Greek Charter system, while Mac and Kelly don’t want to interfere with (just not within their 30-day escrow period). So, essentially speaking, you can root for either side and there’s no right or wrong answer. Of course, when things escalate, the joy is watching the two sides going at it, with hilarious pranks and gags that will surely have you laughing out-loud. Additionally, unlike the first movie, the pacing is on point and doesn’t get bogged down with high and low points.
One of the most interesting aspect of Neighbors 2 is found in its initially premise (i.e. a newly founded sorority that can throw parties). As the movie point out in the begin, sororities CAN Not throw parties, which I find to be interesting. I even did research after that and it, in actuality, that’s the truth. Here’s a quote from an article from the Daily Beast.
One of the most interesting aspect of Neighbors 2 is found in its initially premise (i.e. a newly founded sorority that can throw parties). As the movie point out in the begin, sororities CAN Not throw parties, which I find to be interesting. I even did research after that and it, in actuality, that’s the truth. Here’s a quote from an article from The Daily Beast.
“In real life, the 26 member sororities governed by the National Panhellenic Conference indeed forbid drinking in sorority houses as a rule. No alcohol means no hosting of house parties on par with the fraternities. The problem is, that puts all the power in the hands of male-run social events on campuses across the country. Sororities can host parties, technically speaking—but they either have to co-host them with fraternities, or hire a third-party vendor in order to do so. Which means they require either male permission or outside help to throw their own parties.”
So, yeah, in a nutshell, the movie does point out a problem with the current collegial Greek Life System, proving to be a somewhat poignant message in the movie. It hits it intended target (pointing out women’s rights and sexism towards our “sterotypical” college fraternities), but I wanted for the movie to go further with that idea (like something added to the ending of the feature). I don’t know…. maybe that’s me.
The ultimately problem with Neighbors 2 is that it feels too reminiscent of the first one. It zany and outlandish premise seems to be repurpose narrative from the first Neighbors film, creating a shell of a story that breeds a lot of “Déjà vu” familiarity. Thus, a lot of scenarios and concepts from Neighbors 2 come off as being predictable and almost formulaic. Because of this, there’s really nothing new in the movie that hasn’t been done before, whether commonplace within the raunchy comedy subgenre or harping back to the first Neighbors. In short, this sequel installment falls prey to being a somewhat carbon copy of the first movie, which was to be expected, but still…maybe a little too much relying first film’s surreal premise.
In general terms, the cast of Neighbors 2 is solid and collective group that has a talent for comedic timing, making their performances and interactions with each other joyous fun. Like last time, Seth Rogen leads the charge in that regard as the Mac Radner. Rogen has grown accustomed to this role (his customary funny persona that’s filled with adult humor), but seems to be having fun doing so. In this sequel, Rose Byrne’s Kelly Radner as less to do and is more in the background of the movies. Still, with sharp comedic chops, Byrne does what she can and does shine through with Rogen by her side. Perhaps the best performance in the movie comes in the form of Zac Efron’s Teddy. As an actor, Efron has matured and grown his comedic / acting talents since his days on Disney Channel’s High School Musical movies. Neighbors 2 even creates a sub-story arc for his character as Teddy seems lost and doesn’t know what to do in his post-college / Delta Psi life. Of course, Efron has the natural “hot” look about him that worked in the first movie (a persona of a charming / doofus frat boy), but this sequel adds little more depth to his character and probably is the strongest character in the film.
The three leading characters of Kappa Nu consist of Shelby, Beth, Nora, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, and Beanie Feldstein respectfully. You do root for them and care about them, but there are, more or less, caricatures in the story, serving the main purpose of Sorority Rising. All give good performances (especially Moretz), but the movie isn’t concerned about their character development beyond challenging the Greek Charter System and their rivalry with Radners.
Neighbors 2 also sees the return of familiar faces from the first film, including Dave Franco’s Pete, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Scoonie, Ike Barinholtz’s Jimmy, and Carla Gallo’s Paula. These character are more in the background, but still bring comedic quality to their performances when on-screen. Lastly, Selena Gomez’s cameo-like appearances of Phil Lamda’s Sorority President is funny.
The crazy shenanigans and pranks are back in the sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Stoller’s follow-up to his 2014 movie indeed brings the laughs with some zany comedy antics as well as great chemistry with the overall cast and an interesting notion about Greek Life system and the sororities within. Still, the movie is literally a shell of the first movie and doesn’t bring anything new per say to the table (in narrative nor physical / verbal comedy). Personally, I liked it (some parts were better than the first film). It wasn’t groundbreaking nor original, but still held its own. Thus, I would personally recommend it to those of similar-like taste (fans of raunchy / adult-humor comedies). However, it’s an iffy choice for everyone else. In short, if you liked the first Neighbors movie, then you’ll like Sorority Rising. And if you didn’t like the first movie, then there’s nothing really here for you to watch or be entertained with this comedy sequel.
3.9 Out of 5 (Recommended / Iffy-Choice)
Released On: May 20th, 2016
Reviewed On: May 20th, 2016
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is rated R for crude sexual content including brief graphic nudity, language throughout, drug use and teen partying