Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

I’m sure everybody has dealt with an annoying neighbor at some point in their lives. Someone intent on adding an irritation to your life through intentional and often unintentional means. Currently, I’m dealing with upstairs neighbors that have feet etched out of concrete. I digress. The appeal of the original Neighbors was universal in its concept, and superior in its well-thought out execution. It treated its characters fairly and balanced raunchy with sentiment in proper measures. The sequel squander it’s perfect set-up and exposes itself early as a comically lazy and particularly sloppy filmmaking effort from the once heralded director Nichols Stoller.

Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his pregnant wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) are in the process of selling their home. A perspective buyer has thirty days to decide if they want the property. All is in order for a smooth transition until the unruly sisters of upstart sorority Kappa Nu move in next door. As the rush parties, drug dealing, and sexual behavior intensifies, the Radner’s turn to ex-neighbor and one-time enemy Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) for help.

Now, the trio are teamed in an effort to rid themselves of the rebellious sorority. However, the young women of Kappa Nu, led by the obnoxious Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) refuse to give in and exact a series of pranks on the older couple next door. The increasingly unbelievable scenario gets so outlandish that the girls would have to be ninja’s to pull off their revenge plot.

Once of the greatest sins a filmmaker can commit is to hang his actors out to dry on-screen, letting them make a fool of themselves. Moretz is one of the best talents amongst her peers, but she is just awful here. There can be no other explanation than Stoller having no handle on the story or her characters. Meanwhile, Efron (once again) is mostly in a state of undress and gets another chance to show off his dancing and singing capabilities, his acting capabilities have yet to be seen.

Neighbors 2 wants to position itself as a progressive comedy, with a gay main character, and a theme of female individuality. Having the girls act just as immature, raunchy, and shallow as the boys is not groundbreaking in 2016, even if the filmmakers think so. This is old-hat material parading itself as fresh and representative of the era. I suggest you revisit any of the American Pie films and you’d find bigger laughs and more rounded female characterizations.

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz

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