Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
by George Wolf
So, sororities aren’t permitted to have parties in their houses? Is that a real thing?
Obviously, I didn’t go Greek in college, but what kind of bullshit is that?
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising not only finds it a teachable moment, but the perfect springboard for a funny, and dare I say, socially conscious sequel.
College freshmen Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her new friends Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein – younger sister of Jonah Hill) don’t appreciate the “super-rapey” nature of frat bashes, so they decide to start Kappa Nu, an independent sorority dedicated to the high life. Guess where they find a perfect home base?
It’s the old Delta Psi house from four years earlier, right next door to the home Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) have just put in escrow. The buyers have 30 days to think it over, so the desperate Radners turn to an old frenemy, former Delta Psi president Teddy Sanders, (Zac Efron), to help them drive the Nu neighbors out before their ragers tank the sale.
Director Nicholas Stoller and the writing team led by Rogen and frequent partner Evan Goldberg are all back, so expect more of what made the first film such a down and dirty treat. Byrne’s return is also integral, and not just because she’s proven to be a true comic talent.
Kelly’s spirited participation in the sex, drugs and body fluid-based gags made part one a refreshingly equal offender, and Neighbors 2 spreads similar wealth throughout the ladies of Kappa Nu. There’s a clear feminist undercurrent here, even if it is presented with the occasional awkwardness you might expect from a team of male filmmakers.
Moretz is a worthy new adversary for “the old people,” as she seems to relish the chance at digging in to comic edges we haven’t yet seen. Efron is even better, rising above another beefcake role to add sympathetic layers to Teddy’s struggle with life as an aging bro.
Though not quite as riotous as the original, Neighbors 2 still lands as one of the better comedy sequels. The laughs are familiar but they are steady, finding a comfort zone where raunchy charm and admirable conscience co-exist just fine thank you.