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Neighbors 2 Review: Don't Rush This Sorority

By Julian Roman — May 19th, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a sloppily crafted, dismal sequel. It has a few humorous moments, but not enough to make up for the terrible execution. This is very disappointing. The first film was original, very funny, and had great chemistry between the leads. Sorority Rising has the coherence of an Adam Sandler film. Seth Rogen and his production team obviously dialed this one in. The one saving grace is the message. The film takes a stance on female empowerment and gender equity...In drunken, drug fueled debauchery.

Neighbors 2 opens with Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner expecting their second child. They have purchased a bigger house in the suburbs. The deal to sell their current house is seemingly closed, until they learn they have thirty days in escrow before it's finalized. Chloe Moretz co-stars as Shelby, a college freshman dissatisfied with campus sororities and the sexist rules they endure. She and her feminist dorm pals decide to rent the house beside the Radners. Their dream to start a sorority hits a snag when they realize there's actual money needed. Insert Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and his chiseled physique to the rescue. He needs a new place to live and has a pretty good idea how to party.

Neighbors 2 has essentially the same plot of the first film. Yuppie couple gets in prank war with college kids to save the value of their house. They didn't have to reinvent the plot wheel, but it would have been nice to see something different. The biggest letdown for me is the direction of Nicholas Stoller. He's been a fantastic comedy director to this point, having done the first film, Yes Man, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall to name a few. His work here is uneven. Neighbors 2 is cut together like a collection of skits. Granted, some are funny, but there are quite a few scenes that seem amateurish. It looks to me that the filmmakers thought they were playing with house money and expended very little effort.

Seth Rogen's spiel is getting old. First, I like Seth Rogen. He's made some great comedies in the past. But as in all things, what have you done for me lately. His standard role of the overweight Jewish stoner with the gorgeous girl has become stale. Even the look of his characters are becoming indistinguishable from film to film. Success in Hollywood tends to stifle creativity as actors go to the well that made them famous. That course has run here, times ten, Seth Rogen needs new material.

Neighbors 2 does speak to the sexism women face in college society. The rules that dictate their sorority life are archaic. There's a telling scene where Zac Efron learns that women don't enjoy being referred to as 'hos'. It's obviously satirical, but the casual debasing of women in 'party terminology' needs to be addressed. While his character of Teddy isn't blatantly sexist, the idea that his parlance towards women reinforces negative stereotypes is a good lesson. I just wish there was a better film built around the delivery.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising doesn't hold a candle to the original. It's not terrible. I laughed a few times, but not nearly enough for a recommendation. The editing and plot structure are anemic; jumbled together to crank out a money-maker sequel for summer audiences. Stick to dorm life before joining this Universal Pictures endorsed sorority.

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