Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)

neighbors2I liked “Neighbors” for what it tried to accomplish, but in the end it wasn’t a complete home run. Considering five people worked on it, “Neighbors 2” is a shockingly superior follow up to the original 2014 comedy. While it is, in essence, a cash in, it’s also a much more socially relevant comedy that offers interesting ideas and commentary about equality of the sexes, and how the deck is stacked against young women in society. “Neighbors 2” doesn’t get preachy, but it does provide audiences with a glimpse at how young women are much more objectified and taken for granted than younger men.

This allows for a more empathetic rival and foil for inept husband Mac and wife Kelly. After dealing with the obnoxious frat brothers years before, Mac and Kelly are pregnant again and are focusing on raising their current daughter Stella. In the college close to their neighborhood, new student Morgan has just come from a strict household and is ready to party. While pledging a sorority, she learns that only Fraternities can have parties and sororities are barred from throwing any kind of celebration in their house. Angered and frustrated, Morgan teams up with new pals Beth and Nora to form their own sorority off campus. Their sorority so happens to reside in the same house right next to Mac and Kelly.

Taken under the wing of former frat leader Teddy (Zac Efron), the sorority begins to pose a problem for Mac and Kelly, both of whom want to sell their house and move in to a quieter neighborhood. “Neighbors 2” isn’t so completely one sided this time around. While the original fraternity garnered their own storylines, including Teddy who lacked direction and ambition, they were more obnoxious meatheads than empathetic individuals. Chloe Moretz does a bang up job asa slightly more sympathetic foil this time out, who realizes that her suppressed home life is extending in to the real world where she’s still incapable of expressing herself and being who she wants to be. “Sorority Rising” poses a much more interesting dynamic as Morgan fights for independence and seeks to challenge the idea of how women should act.

Meanwhile Mac and Kelly go to war with them in an effort to look for their own opportunities. While Zac Efron’s return is still tacked on, his character Teddy’s sub-plot is still interesting in that he’s watching everyone he loves move on to new chapters and he is still stuck in the past. “Neighbors 2” packs in so many more laughs this time out, with the new supporting players working well off of Rogen and Byrne. There are also hilarious walk on appearances by Lisa Kudrow, Kelsey Grammer, and Dave Franco, whose return allows for easily the most raucous bit of comedy in the entire film. While I really wish director Stoller would stop letting Seth Rogen ad lib most of his lines, “Neighbors 2” is so much funnier and more entertaining than the first film.