Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.
If you enjoyed "Neighbors," then you'll likely feel the same about its sequel as it is almost exactly the same story as the original. The only difference between the 2014 original and this one is that this follow-up features a sorority - rather than a frat - house moving next door to the beleaguered couple played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne.

As the film opens, Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne) are purchasing a new home and moving out of the old one, but the catch is that their old property is in escrow for 30 days while the prospective buyers take the time to give the home the once-over. Much to the Radners' dismay, a sorority house led by a spunky girl named Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) moves into the house once occupied by Teddy (Zac Efron) and his frat brothers.

The actual reason for the sorority's existence is fairly compelling. Shelby and two of her friends - who, at this point, are still living in college dorms - are disappointed to hear as they consider rushing sororities that only frat houses are allowed to throw parties. They are further put off after attending a frat party, which they accurately later describe as "rapey." So, when Shelby and the gang rent the house next to the Radners, we want to cheer for them as they defy the rules of the sexist system being upheld at their college.

Efron returns as Teddy, whose friends have moved on to jobs and marriage (Dave Franco's Pete is gay and soon to be married). Teddy, on the other hand, is leading a stunted life and, at first, is compelled by the concept of mentoring Shelby's sorority house, pitting him once again against the Radners. However, the girls soon tire of Teddy's antics and he switches teams, helping the Radners come up with methods - including bed bugs and a phone call placed to Shelby's father, played by Kelsey Grammer - of driving the sorority out of the house next door.

There are some laughs to be found within, even though many of the jokes - airbags are put to use once again and condoms are switched out for tampons as weapons used against the Radners' home - feel recycled. There's a certain poignancy involving Efron's goofy Teddy, who comes to realize the errors of his ways, especially in how he and his frat brothers viewed women, as well the sorority's fight for equal rights to party, although the filmmakers mostly utilize this concept merely to show that women can be just as raunchy as men.

Ultimately, "Neighbors 2" isn't a bad movie, just an unnecessary one - a film determined by marketing and box office. Most of the film's cast is game, which counts for something, and I found myself laughing during a handful of sequences. But this concept, which was already a little thin, has been thoroughly exhausted.

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