Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Review – Using sexuality as a weapon

Chad White

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Most, if not all, comedy movies have no need for a sequel. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising falls directly into that camp. But, from the get go, the sequel to the 2014 college based comedy paints itself in a far darker light than its predecessor. For a movie that didn’t need to be made, Neighbors 2 sure does use its uselessness to the full effect. Jokes and character quips aside, the movie is equal if not better than the first.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising follows a new set of characters led by Chloe Grace Mortez’s Shelby, an outcast in college trying to join a sorority. When she finds out that the girl version of frats cannot party, she – along with Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) – start their own sorority that can take advantage of the true meaning of college life. The girls set out to find a home for Kappa Nu only to find a distraught Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) sitting in the empty house, wondering what his use in life is after being kicked out of his apartment by Pete (Dave Franco) and his fiancé. Teddy agrees to help the girls make their sorority work while also trying to destroy neighbors Mac and Kelly Radner’s (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) attempt at moving.

While the movie plays out in the simplest form possible, the jokes are the real star. A repeated mess of cuts to the Radner’s two year old daughter holding Kelly’s dildo is the regular M&M in the packet of peanut M&M’s (which is good). Rogen is at ease with delivering horrible, dark jokes that almost always land while Byrne is just as terribly good at keeping up with him. The two play well with each other and, adding Efron into the mix, only deepens the impact. There’s constant side switching that Efron plays with as his character goes through a quarter-life crisis. And, really, he’s just asking the question we’ve all asked once or twice in life: what am I worth? His sadness and slow descent into madness is a true highlight.

For a comedy movie, it sure does have a lot of set pieces. The parties themselves are arguably base level but instances like the tailgate scene in the first climax are very intense. The second climax with the final party at Kappa Nu is just as good and the best party scene in recent memory. Rising action in both scenes, particularly the former, is balanced just right. The added star power doesn’t hurt either. Most of the characters from the first return from Jerrod Carmichael’s Garf to Lisa Kudrow’s Dean Gladstone. It’s like the umpteenth Marvel or DC movie that has the character you love and you’ve seen them thrice in previous movies but it’s still a treat seeing them. The cameos are treated like regular characters which adds to the rapid pace of the movie.

But the real star of the show is the message that sorority’s and the women in them need to be treated on par with their male counterparts. The jokes used here come off as heavy handed at times but they make sense. Mortez and the girls of Kappa Nu want to hold parties that celebrate the long heritage of strong women but, ultimately, are forced to throw a party that not only breaks their morals but also their inner spirits as well. It’s predictable but the message is crystal clear and will probably leave you with something to think about. And the falling action and resolution has probably the most logical ending for any comedy movie ever. Yes, there is a massive, MASSIVE problem with ex machina’s here but story beats happen too fast for anyone to notice. Things fall into their right places and everything works out well.

Should you watch Neighbors 2: Sorority Row?

If you’re a fan of comedy movies and fun sequels, this is the movie for you. If you don’t think you’ll enjoy it because you don’t like Greek life or dumb movies about drugs, drop that thought immediately. It’s odd to say this but Neighbors and Neighbors 2 are smart and enjoyable. The latter has some interesting things to say, even if the message doesn’t come off so elegantly. So see this no matter what.

Notes

  • I’ve seen every trailer for this movie God knows how many times over the past year. They cut a ton of scenes (like the car wash scene, the police tank hitting a car and Nora flicking off Mac as she crashes through his car window in slo-mo) and now I hope the Blu Ray is chock full of them. I know it won’t be but I can dream.
  • Hannibal Burress’ short scene is magic.
  • Abbi Jacobson and Sam Richardson being a couple feels so right.
  • Speaking of Sam, he’s going to be in Efron’s THIRD movie of 2016, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which looks hilarious as butts.
  • Let the record show that Ike Barinholtz has always been funny. Ever since MadTv.
  • Billy Eichner always stands out.
  • Kelsey Grammer made me cry laughing. Did not expect to see him.
  • Apparently, I don’t know what Selena Gomez looks like because the two scenes she was in, I kept thinking “Man, Demi Lovato looks so different.”