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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising




Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

05/26/16
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne return as a couple who are just looking for some peace and quiet in their home but find themselves living next to a hive of teens in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, a very stupid yet enjoyable comedy.

I’m not even certain that the stupidity of this movie is a knock on it. The stupidity of this movie kind of makes it. If I thought this movie was seriously trying to be about something, I think I would like it considerably less.
Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) and their now toddler-aged daughter Stella (Elise Vargas) are still living in the house that once neighbored a fraternity — but not for long. Kelly is pregnant and the family has bought a bigger home in a quieter suburb. They have also sold their old house. Or, at least, they’ve nearly sold it. A lack of understanding of exactly how “escrow” works means that the couple could end up owning two homes if the couple that bought their old house backs out for any reason in the next 30 days. 
A reason such as a sorority moving in next door.
Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a college freshman looking for the close friendships and constant good times she thinks she’ll find at a sorority. But on rushing one of the college’s official sororities, she learns that the sisters can’t throw parties, only fraternities can. After attending one such affair and deeming it too “rapey” for her liking, Shelby and fellow fun-seekers Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) decide to start their own independent sorority where the girls have the freedom to party without making every event an “and hos” themed affair.  
They happen to be looking at the old frat house at the same time that a forlorn Teddy (Zac Efron) is sitting in the dark and empty living room. His former frat brothers have moved on in life — one’s a cop, one has a successful app, his best bud and roommate Pete (Dave Franco) is getting married — but Teddy, now the oldest guy at the young-person clothing store where he works, is realizing that he peaked in college. The meeting of a former frat bro who knows how to fund a house with a “buckets of money” financial system and three girls trying to figure out how to start an off-the-books sorority is a win for everybody. Teddy has a purpose in life and Shelby gets a hoodie-friendly party haven for herself and other like-minded girls. The only losers are Mac and Kelly, who now live in fear that their buyers will drive by and discover the nightmare that has moved in next door.
Yes, there are plenty of moments of gross-out humor and extravagant pratfalls (the “air bag flings somebody” trick is back again) and this movie doesn’t exactly go for “nuanced wit” in the dialogue department. But the movie’s strategy toward dumbness seems to always be to double down on it, to take the dumb thing and push through until you reach some absurd level on which you can accept the nonsense decisions the characters make. In reality, the “old people” — as Shelby and her friends call Mac, Kelly and eventually even Teddy — probably just would have offered the kids money to keep their situation together and low-key until the property was sold. But this plot-killing moment is not where the movie chooses to spend its reality coupons. 
Instead, we get doses of genuine emotion elsewhere, like when Shelby is confronted by her father (Kelsey Grammer) about her alcohol- and pot-filled new living situation. Mac and Kelly called him to talk sense into her but their conversation ends with him offering to take her friends to brunch and Shelby jeans shopping. Later, he starts crying about how quiet his house is when talking to Mac and Kelly. The moment is played for laughs but also called back to later when Mac and Kelly contemplate the future of their relationship with Stella. It’s silly but sweet and it helps to give some depth to the cartoonish comedy. 
As does Teddy’s quarterlife crisis. He was great at frat-bro-ing but hasn’t figured out how to adult. His realization that he isn’t one of “us” to the sorority girls but one of “them,” the old people, is exaggerated, sure, but not so unlike the feeling everybody gets when they realize they’ve really left youth behind and are now solidly in grown-up territory. Kelly also gets a similar moment toward the end of the movie, when she’s called on to fix a problem with mom-ness. She might not be perfect at parenting (whatever that means) but she has it in herself to use a firm tone of voice and some Chumbawamba lyrics to buck up kids in need of help. 
The movie also has some fun, sly moments of both poking holes in frat-boy culture and letting the girls be just as goofy and bad at decision-making. The girls aren’t inherently better or more righteous than the boys in this movie, they’re just given more dimensions and allowed to be flawed — still a rare enough thing that it stands out.
And all of this is done with basic good-heartedness. Perhaps the other reason that the movie works more than it doesn’t is that it isn’t a mean comedy. Even when characters are “at war” they’re never cruel.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is silly, crude and loud — but sometimes that’s just what you’re looking for. B-
Rated R for crude sexual content including brief graphic nudity, language throughout, drug use and teen partying. Directed by Nicholas Stoller and written by Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O’Brien & Nicholas Stoller & Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is an hour and 32 minutes long and is distributed by Universal. 
 





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