2016 Movie Countdown: Neighbors 2 – Sorority Rising (#37)


“It’s not working! You’re only making them sexier!”

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is the sequel to the 2014 comedy starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron.

A couple years after kicking the Delta Psi fraternity out from next door, Mac and Kelly Radner have finally managed to sell their house with the only obstacle being a 30-day escrow period for the new perspective buyers. All is well and good until three college girls, who aren’t fond of the way frat parties are typically handled, create a sorority of their own. They move in (you guessed it) right next door to the Radner house. With the clock slowly ticking for the escrow and the girls having to party to afford their rent, a standoff ensues. The Radners’ only hope now is for old enemies to reunite and take Kappa Nu down.

Pros: I was incredibly excited for the Neighbors sequel since I adored the first one. I found the original Neighbors inventive, fun, and objectively clever at certain points. The first film even ended up ranking #11 in my 2014 Movie Countdown. I guess you can say I had high hopes for this movie, and in a lot of ways it serves as a good follow-up to that original film.

Neighbors 2, if nothing else, maintains the spirit, tone and comedic energy of the first film. The film is very upbeat in nature, almost like a more grounded Cat in the Hat (if anyone remembers that movie). Everything from the set design to the dialogue screams a very pleasant atmosphere you’d love to dip your toe into for a little bit. In fact, that pleasant look and feel is part of what makes these movies work so well. It contrasts with the film’s comedic style and themes, which (while mostly innocent and immature) often goes in harsh and even morbid directions. It’s almost as if the film is smacking you back down to earth, where people do messed up things to get what they want.

Another area of contrast is in the movie’s points of view. Like the film before it, you are treated to multiple perspectives to gaze the situation from: that of Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne and that of Zac Efron. However, there’s also the third perspective which for a time blends with that of Efron’s before breaking off into its own. That third perspective comes from Chloe Grace Mortez, who is much better here than she was in The 5th Wave. The clever thing about this passing of perspectives is that it allows for more character development on all sides. As tempting as it is for you to side against Kappa Nu, you grow to understand why they’re somewhat in the right. Then again, you understand why the Radners’ need those girls out of the neighborhood. It doesn’t show favoritism to any particular side, and it eventually leads to a funnier film.

Cons: While Neighbors 2 is far from a bad movie, it’s definitely an underwhelming and inferior film compared to the original. Not dramatically worse. Just a step down. The best adjective to give it is “safe”.

On the surface, Neighbors 2 is doing everything it can to be a distinct, fresh comedic successor to the first movie. The story is somewhat tweaked, they added new themes, and there aren’t even that many returning gags from the first film. However, the film does take the safe route in the one place that matters: the comedy. This movie is funny truth be told, but the jokes this time around aren’t nearly as hilarious. They’re enough to make you giggle, but aside from a few great lines and scenes that were already shown in the trailer, it’s not that strong a comedy.

I also take a slight issue with the film’s climax. If you were a fan of the first film’s loud, all-out, ridiculous, and funny third act, you’ll probably find the end of this film a bit underwhelming. That’s probably just me, though.

Verdict: While Neighbors 2 may be inferior to its predecessor, on its own its still a decently funny comedy. I had a good time with the film at the end of the day even if I left the film wanting a bit more. I’d gladly see it again sometime in a back-to-back feature with the original.

For all posts in the 2016 Movie Countdown, click here!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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