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‘Neighbors 2’ a Rare Comedy Sequel That Works

Neighbors_2_Sorority_RisingIs that a unicorn? No? Just a comedy sequel that is as good as the original? Huh. Well, they’re both magical and rare. [cough] I apologize for that lame intro. Onto the review.


“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is the sequel to the 2014 hit “Neighbors,” which is Seth Rogen’s highest grossing film to date. When a sorority led by Chloë Grace Moretz moves in next door, Rogen and his wife (Rose Byrne) must enlist the help of former frat leader Teddy (Zac Efron) in order to make sure their house sells. Nicholas Stoller returns to direct.


I enjoyed the original “Neighbors” a fair amount on my first viewing and very much on my second. It just has a fun watchability about it, even if it isn’t Rogen’s best comedy. When they announced a sequel was in the works I wasn’t surprised but I was worried; there really wasn’t much more they could seemingly do with these characters, plus the trailers made the sequel out to look like an exact replica of the first film. But after seeing the movie, I can tell you: I was right, it is literally the same movie. But for all the best reasons.


Everything that worked about the original is once more a strength here. Zac Efron again shows that his true calling is comedy (he saved “Dirty Grandpa” from being a disaster) as he reprises the role of clueless but lovable frat-head Teddy. Teddy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but he means well, and Efron plays his character with the right blend of simple, vulnerable and charming. I have always been a supporter of him (not a fan, but…) so as long as he keeps accepting that he is the dumb hot jock, I think Efron will be ok.


The guy I am a fan of is Seth Rogen and he is his normal Seth Rogen self, that meaning he makes pot jokes, pokes fun at how fat he is and says the f-word a lot. He and Rose Byrne (as charming and bae-able as ever) have good chemistry and you do buy their relationship as stressed parents.


The film is for the most part paced well thanks to sharp editing by Zene Baker and colorful cinematography by Brandon Trost (Rogen’s normal duo). Director Nicholas Stoller knows how long scenes should last to not have them overstay their welcome, which keeps things moving along at a nice pace (the film is only 92 minutes long).


The film makes a few good points about the hypocrisy of men and frats vs women and sororities, like how it is actually against sorority rules to host a party (which is crazy and definitely not OK), and for this the film is to be commended. However it then begins to really shove “women can do anything men can do and probably better!” down the audiences throat (not in an aggressive way, but almost every scene tries to offer commentary) and it got tedious for me be the end.


Also there are small things that require you to suspend belief of reality. When it’s an exploding airbag I can do that but when someone breaks into another person’s home and then openly brags about it and sells the stolen item, and then the owner doesn’t go to the police simply because it would end the movie, that makes you take a step back.


“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” isn’t necessarily a great comedy but it is a great comedy sequel, in that much like “22 Jump Street” it is fully aware it has no reason at all for even existing and never tries to one-up its predecessor (unlike the sequels to: “The Hangover,” “Horrible Bosses” or “Zoolander”). Is it side-splitting funny? No, but I had a smile on my face for a majority of the runtime and so long as familiarity and genital jokes don’t bother you, you should do yourself a favor and check out Zac Efron’s abs—er, sorry, I mean, this movie.


Critics Rating: 7/10



‘Neighbors’ a Fun Watch

neighborsImagine the Farrelly Brothers directed “Animal House”. The outcome would be something very similar to “Neighbors”. Directed by “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller, the film stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents whose life is turned upside down when a fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, moves in next door.

Seth Rogen was placed on Hollywood’s comedy radar when he exploded onto the scene in 2007 with “Knocked Up” and “Superbad”. Since then, he has made films that have been revered as some of the funniest films of the past decade, like “Pineapple Express” and “This Is the End”. It can be argued that he has never made a bad film, and certainly never something as lazy as most Adam Sandler movies. And the fact that “Neighbors” is not one of Rogen’s funniest films, but is still a solid film, says a lot.

In the very first scene of “Neighbors”, you know exactly what kind of movie you’re in store for. The film opens up with Rogen and Byrne awkwardly trying to get intimate in front of their newborn baby (yeah, the movie is set in a world where Seth Rogen can get a girl like Rose Byrne). The film has its share of gross out gags, and fair share of genitalia jokes, but it knows exactly where to end the joke and never overdoes it, like so many wannabe raunchy movies try to do.

The best part of “Neighbors”, a film featuring established comedy stars like Rogen, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Hannibal Buress, is Zac Efron. For some reason, some people don’t like Efron. They say he’s just a pretty boy or a Disney Kid, or are just plain jealous (I mean, just look at the guy). But Efron may have just found his new niche, because he is perfectly cast as Teddy, the leader of the Delta Psi fraternity. Seamlessly blending cool nice guy with jerk, Efron steals every scene he is in, and possibly part of what makes his role so great is seeing the star of “High School Musical” dropping f-bombs and smoking joints.

What holds “Neighbors” back from the levels of Rogen’s other films is the amount of jokes in the film. While there are a lot of moments with clever gags or funny one-liners, there are sometimes five to ten minute segments where you won’t laugh; either a joke falls flat or there just doesn’t even seem to be one attempted. “Ted” had a similar issue; the film is never boring, it just may not be as funny as it thinks or hopes it is.

Editors don’t get enough credit from the normal filmgoer, so I’ll give Zene Baker, the editor of “Neighbors”, major props. The film is very well paced; its 96 minutes and but never feels rushed, and there are a few fun transition shots.

“Neighbors” isn’t the funniest film Seth Rogen has ever made, but it is still very entertaining. Zac Efron may have broken out of his shell and the rest of the supporting cast each lend something special. The film has its share of heart, too. I guess you could say the film is neat, tight and easy to watch; just like Zac Efron’s torso.

Critics Rating: 7/10