Most comedy sequels are hit-and-miss, with the “miss” part being more common in this case. There are a lot of examples of comedy sequels that don’t live up to what made their predecessors good in the first place. In the case of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, it is not a miss by any stretch, although it is flawed in some areas.
Neighbors 2 was released on May 20 and was filmed at a relatively small budget of $35 million, slightly more than its predecessor’s budget. A lot of its main cast returned with Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron reprising their roles, along with a few others. Chloe Grace Moretz appears in this film as a new character named Shelby, who serves as the primary antagonist of the film.
With the first film having involved Mac and Kelly Radner (Rogen and Byrne, respectively) battling a fraternity, this time a sorority moves in next to them and they make the couple’s lives a living hell and they go to war with them. In other words, it’s a rehash of the first film. However, that is not a bad thing.
What separates itself from the first film is that each of the main characters have their own subplots and the elements that differentiate this film’s plot from its predecessor. For example, the main plot has the Radners wanting to sell their house but were escrowed for 30 days and within that month, the sorority was formed by Shelby, along with Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), and they moved into the house next door, which used to belong to the fraternity in the first film. Mac and Kelly don’t want them to cause trouble for the potential buyers, but in Hollywood fashion, trouble ensues and a war commences.
Also, one of the subplots showed where Teddy Sanders (Efron) had gone through during the lapse between the two films and where his life was up to that point. It gave the character some development.
Apart from the story, the film worked on different levels with some of the writing and the comedy. Knowing what a lot of films that star Rogen include, I was sure that there would be a lot of crude jokes involved. There was also a lot of slapstick humor that got me laughing. Even some parts with minor characters were funny. Also, one of the funniest scenes in the movie had Mac talking to Kelly through Facetime and Mac stood in front of an obvious backdrop of the Sydney Opera House. Not to mention that there were some nods to the predecessor with the airbags.
Moretz really shined in her role as the antagonist of the film. I have admired her as an actress ever since I first saw her play Hit-Girl in the first “Kick-Ass” movie. She continues to grow as an actress and this film was no exception to that.
However, some of the film’s negative aspects mainly involved the writing. Now I did not mind that the movie followed the same dynamic as the first, but what this film lacked in some areas was consistency. In the film’s climax the sorority threw a party to raise money but they went against what they believed in. The plot point of the film was that these girls formed a sorority so that they can party like fraternities do, but the writers added in a pseudo-feminist message at that point which shifted the tone a bit. But that was mainly it in terms of the flaws.
Flaws aside, this film still provided enough laughs to keep audiences entertained. All of the main cast had their moments in the film, as did some of the supporting cast.