Friends will come together to solve dilemmas in “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” a collection of humorous situations amid an otherwise tasteless comedy from director Nicholas Stroller. Seth Rogen returns as Mac, and this time he must contend with an obnoxious sorority that moves in next door.
Mac (Rogen) and his wife, Kelly (Rose Byrne), are expecting a second child and have finally found a buyer for their old house, assuming nothing ruins the property value within thirty days. So when a sorority moves into the house next door, led by rebellious Shelby (Chlo Grace Moretz), the couple is in a bind. Mac’s old enemy, frat boy Teddy (Zac Efron) soon emerges, mentoring the sorority as revenge against Mac. But when the sorority grows out of control, Mac and Teddy are forced to work together.
Following in the vein of the raunchy, adult-oriented humor, examples of bad parenting, and crass behavior of the original, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” runs with a similar premise as its predecessor while attempting to present audiences with a new spin. Right away the film identifies as a satire of the college experience from the female perspective, trying to tackle issues of misogyny and feminism. However, this farce of serious issues is mishandled by rather boorish characters.
Whether the film focuses on Rogen’s well-intended yet misguided everyman, Efron’s conflicted, meandering post-grad, or Moretz’s freshman eager for independence, it feels as if the writers did not know where they were taking the story. In this case, most of the film’s messages are rather blatant and
forced, and could only be missed if the audience was asleep. The situations gradually become more ridiculous and, for a satirical comedy, rather unbelievable.
Most of the comedy draws from the terrible, absolutely despicable behavior displayed by the film’s characters. It’s obvious they don’t represent an ideal; rather, they are the antithesis of what one should strive to be, the end result of growing up with questionable judgement and a lack of moral fiber. This should result in rather funny comedy, and at times it does. The film often finds a niche to contrast these outlandish characters with real life, until juvenile humor drags the plot back down into the toilet.
Maybe these instances of gross-out comedy would be more excusable if the plot was not also just as rancid. Again, as a possible testament to how little the filmmakers cared, the story only reaches feature film length thanks to its willfully ignorant characters. Removing the sorority should have been an easy task, given numerous instances of illegal behavior, trespassing, vandalism, and even physical assault committed against the main characters. It’s aggravating to watch such incompetent characters, and annoying to see no true repercussions for their vile actions.
Relying heavily on gross visuals and shock gags, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” from director Nicholas Stroller squanders its decently good-hearted message with intolerable characters and dull plot direction. While the film had potential to draw comedy from parenthood and college life, the writers highlight only a handful of genuinely funny moments, instead focusing on dislikable caricatures.
My grade: 4.5/10 stars.
(Timothy Hogg is a copy editor for The Derrick./The News-Herald. He has a minor in film and media studies from Slippery Rock University. Readers may contact him by email at timothyhogg.thederrickgmail.com.)
Next week: “X-Men: Apocalypse” starring Jennifer Lawrence