Friday, May 20, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Annoying feminists vs great original characters.

Neighbors 2 went for a slightly different formula for a comedy sequel than the Hollywood norm of just make everything bigger and bolder. Neighbors 2 added new characters with a specific purpose: add a message and bring in a new audience. With the subtitle “Sorority Rising”, the message is one of feminism, and with new characters including Chloe Grace Moretz as an atypical sorority girl, the new audience is college-aged girls. 2016

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller

Screenplay by: Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O'Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen

Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are still living next door to the former fraternity house, but hoping to move, and then eventually become actual adults and good parents. Meanwhile at the local college, a new group of girls are brought into the sorority world where they find out that on-campus sororities are prohibited from hosting parties – unlike all of the characters in the movie I refuse to google if this is true; I just don’t care. Movies are free to use real-life laws or made up ones, the important aspect is if along with these rules, they created characters that I care about. Shelby (Moretz) is a pot-smoking, smart-mouthed brat who was too annoying to be interesting or sympathetic. Along with her equally annoying cohorts, she moves the sorority next door to Mac and Kelly and prove that they can party harder than the boys did. Kelsey Grammer shows up for a scene as Shelby’s dad who concludes that her move was just to prove that girls can be as stupid as boys.

Cynics will argue that everything about Neighbors 2 was just to please the liberal crowd and diversity police. There’s an argument that the sorority and feminism storyline was filling that Hollywood quota (and trying to capitalize on the recently successful R-rated female comedies), but I think everything else in the Neighbors 2 universe grew organically from the first one, and the writing team made some brilliant choices with the original characters.

Teddy, Garf, Scoonie and Pete are all still friends. Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has developed a successful absurd, most likely very sexist, app, while Garf (Jerrod Carmichael) lements about being a lowly police officer. Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) are best friends, despite the fact that Pete is moving on in life and about to get married and Teddy is just as immature as when we last saw him, and still working in retail. The evolution (and very slow evolution in the case of Teddy) to this pair of best friends is both hiliarious and perfectly done. Pete is gay, and for those of us paying attention in the first movie, this should not come as a surprise, but rather delight that Pete finally came out, and the filmmakers allowed him to.

Teddy doesn’t welcome Pete’s fiancĂ© into his life since they have asked him to move out, and then Teddy finds the worst possible job: party manager for the sorority house. The main plot and source of comedy for the movie is the girls’ partying, and making life miserable for Mac and Kelly and Teddy.

The continuation of the original characters is great: they are all still funny, and they all had a natural progression for who they are. It is a funny movie, but arguably not as funny as the original, and the sorority girls don’t add much. However, it does conclude with the best possible career choice for Teddy.

Similar Titles:

Neighbors (2014) - Frat boys don’t up the ante of outrageous comedy but find an enjoyable middle ground.