I’ve had pretty good luck with neighbors throughout my life—besides the old snoop who lived next door when I was a kid and cut holes in our bushes to spy on us. Mac and Kelly, on the other hand, have not had the best of luck. After the success of Neighbors in 2014 (which also marked a new beginning for Zac Efron) I really didn’t think we’d get a sequel. It was a hilarious movie that contained a surprising amount of reality despite its over-the-top nature.
The trouble with comedies is that the sequels seldom get any better and they often rely on the same humor that made the originals so great (e.g. 22 Jump Street, Hangover, Anchorman). This is much of the same pitfall that Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising finds itself in, but it still remains a solid flick that delivers on the laughs, even if they feel recycled.
Neighbors 2 is essentially a rehashing of the first one, but instead of a fraternity, it’s a newly-formed sorority tired of the rigid Greek system that doesn’t allow sororities to host their own parties. Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) want to sell their house, but the new neighbors might prove to be a problem.
Playing heavily on the age-old battle of the sexes, a lot of interesting ideas are raised pertaining to gender relations and sexism in college. Though some of the jokes cross the line (do we really need more jokes about Cosby and roofies?), there is a fair amount of heart that comes across through some deceptively poignant moments, particularly involving Teddy (Efron).
After losing his job as an Abercrombie model because they got rid of shirtless photos (yes, it actually happened), Teddy finds himself pondering his self-worth as his buddies from the first film (Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Jerrod Carmichael) have all moved past their rager days and started successful post-grad careers.
Juggling Teddy’s woes with Mac and Kelly’s attempts to sell their house and their worries about being good parents (with a new baby on the way) is a lot, but throw in the struggles of the new sorority led by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), and the movie becomes a balancing act of three different stories that could have each been their own story.
Some running gags become overused by the end of the 90-minute movie, particularly Stella’s odd fascination with her mother’s dildo (yeah…), but there is enough material in it that left me howling with laughter. My one big problem is that the sorority never really feels like a threat. They don’t do much to combat Mac and Kelly, but rather purely their existence is the problem. Their antics never reach the heights that Teddy got up to in the first one, and with the exception of one major prank, they feel more like nuisances than serious threats. Unfortunately this is a bit of a downgrade, as the first film brought constant laughs from the crazy shit the frat boys got up to.
While not quite as good as its predecessor, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising offers laughs, heart, and a discussion on sexism as its characters mature and grow older. Though some jokes cross the line, it still has enough to offer to make it a little worth it to go back and party all over again.