By Thomas Simpson
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, a sequel to 2014’s Neighbors, offers much of the same only not done as well. The first film was a stupid yet amusingly crude comedy that featured a ridiculously jacked Zac Efron who impressed in his role as frat boy Teddy. Teddy and his frat brothers made life hell for his neighbors Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), resulting in a prank war that quickly escalated to malicious levels.
The frat house has since disbanded with Mac and Kelly feeling it’s time to move on and put their house on the market. With their property in escrow, it’s nervous times for the couple as a newly founded sorority moves in next door, led by Chloë Grace Moretz’s Shelby. Tensions rise and the vulgarity bubbles but unfortunately the laughs are few and far between.
Once the premise has been established the jokes flow more easily but it’s the original cast that gets the most laughs as the newcomers are hampered with poor lines and terrible delivery. Efron, Byrne and Rogen have great chemistry which elevates the sophomoric humor, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the other side of the divide.
Efron’s evolution as a comedy actor has seen him provide great performances in below par movies. A lot of the gags here revolve around his looks and although the objectification of him is funny, that’s all it is. There is no deeper message conveyed here despite the intention to make a statement.
The plot is weak and flimsy with events poorly connected in order to progress the story. The blunt themes of feminism are less empowering and more cringe worthy. The film tries too hard to have meaning and depth when instead the strengths lie in the gross out comedy that made the previous one a hit.
While many of the jokes are contemporary the filmmakers overemphasize a generation gap that doesn’t really exist. Only two years have passed between films yet the last film is presented as being an outdated time from which the world is ready to move on from. These times aren’t a changing that quickly.
For all its flaws, Neighbors 2 is an easy watch and offers an unchallenging trip to the cinema.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.