Gender Equality: Our Review of ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 19, 2016
Gender Equality: Our Review of ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

In this day and age, it is oh so important to remember that women can and should have the right to do everything that men can do; even partying like a dumbass shouldn’t have any gender lines.

While Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising certainly doesn’t fall into the rare pantheon of movie sequels that surpass their originals, it does manage an unexpected charm as it delivers a positive life message with a strong overall narrative rather than wall to wall college based laughs.

It’s a couple of years removed from Mac & Kelly Radner’s (Seth Rogan & Rose Byrne) first encounter with frat life and now they have a problem that they are looking forward to; they’re about to have another child and they need a bigger home.  With the sale almost complete, and a mere 30 days escrow to wait out, their worst nightmare turns up in the form of young Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the ladies of Kappa Nu; a sorority trying to break from the norm and doing everything that the male frat houses have the right to do, without the misogyny and sexism of course…and they are determined to party like they have never partied before.  Faced with the prospect of owning two houses that they can’t afford their efforts to get the girls out of the house takes a turn that they never expected as these young women are even crazier then Teddy (Zac Efron) ever dreamed of being.  Now with nowhere left to turn, former enemies now team up to take down this sorority that parties so hard that even the most hardened of party goer is scared out of their minds.

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Thinning out the straight gonzo college gags of the first installment for more of an actual narrative about female empowerment, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising while without the raw laughs of the original actually ends up feeling like much more of a genuine tale about the constant self discover of life, that starts in college and continues long after you’ve left those halls of higher education.

With the entire writing and directing team back in the saddle and both Rogan and writing partner Evan Goldberg contributing this time out you’d think that this would be a wall to wall zany riot but it actually ends up a little choppy in moments as you can’t help but feel like they went all out and made a 2.5 hour version of this story that they were mandated to cut to 90 or so minutes for the theatrical release.  It still works…well kind of, as it almost feels like this is the Coles notes version of the story, getting straight to the bullet points and not wasting a ton of time on character exposition as it moves very fast.  The issues of female empowerment and equality actually managed to resonate pretty well, even when the movie was going for the gross out gusto on a couple of occasions.  It doesn’t deliver the message perfectly, but it does enough that we at least get the jest of it all and it does enough right while not feeling like a rehashed version of the original.neighbors2

Both Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne are effortless as always and have great comedic chops together as they both bemoan their abilities to be good parents and it quietly and kind of subversively dovetails that into the grander issue of how we all have to emotionally evolve at various stages in our lives.  They anchor a solid ensemble as Zac Efron actually manages to shine and deliver much better work here than in the abysmal Dirty Grandpa that we all had to sit through earlier this year.  His friendship with Dave Franco comes back around in a nice way while returnees like Lisa Kudrow, Ike Barinholtz, Christopher Mintz Plasse & Carla Gallo give us some connection to the first film.  Chloe Grace Moretz more then has the chops the carry a comedy as she proves here and with the underrated Kiersey Clemons & Beanie Feldstein at her side, the laughs don’t let up.  Along with some fun extended cameos from the likes of Hannibal Buress, Kelsey Grammer and Selena Gomez, the film has enough energy to keep us guessing and engaged even when some of the jokes fall a little flat.

When all is said and done, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising manages to make the grade by actually finding comedy in some real issues while giving us just enough of the sight gags and gonzo comedy to keep the masses on board.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.