Is that a unicorn? No? Just a comedy sequel that is as good as the original? Huh. Well, they’re both magical and rare, so… [cough] I apologize for that lame intro. Onto the review.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is the sequel to the 2014 hit “Neighbors,” which is Seth Rogen’s highest grossing film to date. When a sorority led by Chloë Grace Moretz moves in next door, Rogen and his wife (Rose Byrne) must enlist the help of former frat leader Teddy (Zac Efron) in order to make sure their house sells. Nicholas Stoller returns to direct.
I enjoyed the original “Neighbors” a fair amount on my first viewing and very much on my second. It just has a fun watchability about it, even if it isn’t Rogen’s best comedy. When they announced a sequel was in the works I wasn’t surprised but I was worried; there really wasn’t much more they could seemingly do with these characters, plus the trailers made the sequel out to look like an exact replica of the first film. But after seeing the movie, I can tell you: I was right, it is literally the same movie. But for all the best reasons.
Everything that worked about the original is once more a strength here. Zac Efron again shows that his true calling is comedy (he saved “Dirty Grandpa” from being a disaster) as he reprises the role of clueless but lovable frat-head Teddy. Teddy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but he means well, and Efron plays his character with the right blend of simple, vulnerable and charming. I have always been a supporter of him (not a fan, but…) so as long as he keeps accepting that he is the dumb hot jock, I think Efron will be ok.
The guy I am a fan of is Seth Rogen and he is his normal Seth Rogen self, that meaning he makes pot jokes, pokes fun at how fat he is and says the f-word a lot. He and Rose Byrne (as charming and bae-able as ever) have good chemistry and you do buy their relationship as stressed parents.
The film is for the most part paced well thanks to sharp editing by Zene Baker and colorful cinematography by Brandon Trost (Rogen’s normal duo). Director Nicholas Stoller knows how long scenes should last to not have them overstay their welcome, which keeps things moving along at a nice pace (the film is only 92 minutes long).
The film makes a few good points about the hypocrisy of men and frats vs women and sororities, like how it is actually against sorority rules to host a party (which is crazy and definitely not OK), and for this the film is to be commended. However it then begins to really shove “women can do anything men can do and probably better!” down the audiences’ throat (not in an aggressive way, but almost every scene tries to offer commentary) and it got tedious for me be the end.
Also there are small things that require you to suspend belief of reality. When it’s an exploding airbag I can do that but when someone breaks into another person’s home and then openly brags about it and sells the stolen item, and then the owner doesn’t go to the police simply because it would end the movie, that makes you take a step back.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” isn’t necessarily a great comedy but it is a great comedy sequel, in that much like “22 Jump Street” it is fully aware it has no reason at all for even existing and never tries to one-up its predecessor (unlike the sequels to: “The Hangover,” “Horrible Bosses” or “Zoolander”). Is it side-splitting funny? No, but I had a smile on my face for a majority of the runtime and so long as familiarity and penis jokes don’t bother you, you should do yourself a favor and check out Zac Efron’s abs—er, sorry, I mean, this movie.
Critics Rating: 7/10