By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Two years after the first battle between the Radners and “zoo fraternity” Delta Psi, the creative team behind the first Neighbors movie has returned with a sequel that may not be quite funny and entertaining as the first film, but does make a valiant effort to take raunchy humor into more progressive territory. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising: brings back Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne along with some of the other members from the first film for a new battle of wits and bad taste. This time the antagonists are a brand new independent sorority and because of the gender difference, this actually allows the filmmakers to have fun with and celebrate the empowerment of women. This does make for more intelligent and enlightened material. However, because the essential premise of the film and some of the humor gets rehashed, the overall result is a sequel that just doesn’t deliver the same level of entertainment and laughs offered by by the first installment.
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are not only expecting another baby, they have also put their current house for sale. With the Delta Psi fraternity no longer living next door, their thirty-day escrow with their interested buyers should go rather smoothly. That is until the former frat house becomes the new home to Kappa Nu, an independent and progressive sorority which plans on partying just as hard as the fraternities at their school. Worried that they will never be able to sell their home, the Radners seek the help of former rival Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and their close friends Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo). When the Kappa Nu’s retaliate in an ugly way, it’s on like Donkey Kong!
Written by Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and directed by Stoller, this sequel does deliver some fresh comedy, but unfortunately repeats some from the first film. Because not all of the humor works or works as well as the first movie, this installment definitely feels like a sequel, and one that the filmmakers and cast felts somewhat obligated to make. On the positive end, the writers and cast do their best considering that the comedy isn’t as strong this time. What does make the film more refreshing, though, is the fact that the filmmakers lampoon elements and tropes from the first film and other comedies of that variety. That spin on the material in addition to the feminist themes and bold new directions for certain characters actually make this movie seem more ambitious than the first. Despite the fact that overall product doesn’t work as well, I do applaud that they actually attempted to do some things differently.
On the other hand, I am happy that some things haven’t changed–in particular, the cast members who returned to reprise their roles. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne return with as much chemistry and comic timing as they have in the first movie. I was a little disappointed, however, that Byrne doesn’t have as many funny or memorable scenes as she had in the previous installment. Zac Efron also makes a welcome return and delivers. Unfortunately, he doesn’t share as many scenes with Dave Franco, but it is still fun to see them on the screen together. New to this film are Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiercy Clemons, Beanie Feldstein who do not disappoint as the leaders of Kappa Nu.
Even though the film is ultimately disappointing as a follow-up to Neighbors, it is still a fun and entertaining comedy. I just hope that this is the last one of the series, because I doubt that a third film could do something even more inventive and exciting to further the franchise. As with the first film, this movie earns its R-rating and doesn’t pull too many punches with the raunchy humor and strong language. Those who didn’t like Neighbors probably won’t enjoy this movie either for the same reasons. Fans, on the other hand, will probably have fun with this movie, but will probably feel the sequel wear as I did.