Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne reprise their roles in the sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and joining them is Chloë Grace Moretz who plays Shelby, a new recruit for a sorority during her first year of college. After joining forces with new friends Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), they attend their first frat party (seeing as sororities are not allowed to throw their own parties). While at the party, they quickly become very uncomfortable with what they call a “rapey” atmosphere. The girls decide to start their own sorority where they can do what they want (i.e. smoke weed and party on their own terms) and have fun in ways they actually consider to be fun as women. Unfortunately, they rent out the old house Teddy’s fraternity occupied beside Mac and Kelly. Which is extremely problematic because Mac and Kelly are moving and their house is in escrow – the war begins.
Pretty feminist sounding right?
Feminism is a central focus throughout the entirety of the film and it is quite a risky move considering the demographic (young men) the first film was directed towards. It was a decision that ultimately paid off. Little things, like showing the women ditching their heels to dance in their socks, or recognizing that some women love to dress down while others love to dress up, worked to make the film truly socially aware in an endearing way while creating a genuine sense of sisterhood.
Interestingly, out of the five writers credited, none of them were women. Rogen had said they consulted women but it’s not the same as having someone fully immersed in the writing process, and it shows at points. Far more good than harm came out of this choice, but you’d think a film trying to bring social issues to light would take the same steps behind the scenes.
There was a lot of ground they were trying to cover: ageism, sexism, parenthood, growing up, and friendship, among a few others. There was so much going on that nothing felt fully fleshed out, instead the surface was skimmed, leaving an incomplete feeling that rushes to tie loose ends.
As for the comedy, it’s too bad the jokes weren’t as risky as the political correctness. The comedy felt repetitive (i.e. Rogen’s obsession with weed) and others went on for far too long. The same run of the mill jokes as the first entry were used again, which are funny, but unoriginal. You’ll get a good, consistent chuckle, but not the gut busting laughter you hope from a comedy, especially a Seth Rogen branded comedy.
However, Rogen and Byrne have great comedic chemistry. They have this naturally humorous effect together. I love watching them and they continue to be the highlight of the films.
Efron brought a lot to Teddy and he’s genuinely good in comedies, as it’s where he flourishes the most. The problem is he seems to be getting shoved into this category of hot muscled douche. He has the potential to be so much better if he found the right project to challenge him in the right ways.
As for Moretz, her line delivery was awkward and came across as forced at points which threw off the scenes slightly. I’m not sure at this point if she just needs to hit her full potential, if she’s getting stuck in mediocre roles, or she’s just not a great actress.
Most sequels have trouble building upon their predecessor and this was no exception. Neighbors 2 is entertaining and an enjoyable watch overall. It works for what it needs to be.