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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Even More Angry Birds (Joke Probably Funnier In England)"
1 stars

Considering the fact that the original “Neighbors” was one of the more obnoxious and stridently unfunny comedies of recent memory, it should probably come as no surprise that the inevitable sequel would be just as devoid of laughs—even the sequels to good comedies tend to chafe under the strain of coming up with jokes that aren’t merely retreads of ones deployed the first time around. However, the most frustrating aspect about “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is that, unlike the first film’s war of attrition between new parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne and the obnoxious fraternity led by party-hearty heartthrob Zac Efron that moves in next door to them, this one actually has a genuinely inspired idea at its center that it then proceeds to completely squander.

As the film opens, incoming freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) is rushing a sorority when she is informed by its leader (Selena Gomez in a cameo) that according to the rules of the Greek system, only fraternities are allowed to throw parties. When she is put off by the overly rapey nature of those shindigs, she decides to form her own off-campus sorority where she and her sisters will be able to party according to their own dictates. Inevitably, the house they chose is the one right next door to Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne), who are now expecting another child and whose plans to move to a bigger house in the suburbs hinge upon getting through the 30-day escrow period without alienating the potential buyers. Alas, under the advisement of Teddy (Efron), who has not moved on from his college days, the girls prove to be even wilder than the fraternity that used to reside there. Eventually, Shelby and the others get so out of control that Teddy winds up joining forces with Mac and Kelly in an effort to get the sorority shut down resulting, as the first one did, with a lot of weirdly violent one-upmanship punctuated by a moment of serious reflection that proves to be far funnier than most of the deliberately comedic material.

The inspired idea, of course, is the notion of a group of girls forming their own sorority as a way of thumbing their noses at the inequities and overt sexism of campus life in general and the Greek system in particular. The thought of them simultaneously fighting for their rights as women and for the right to party could not only inspire a lot of laughs but maybe even a little bit of thought as well in the minds of those who have been too willing to give the bro culture a pass. Frankly, an entirely separate movie could have been spun out of this concept without even needing to make it a “Neighbors” sequel. Unfortunately, having established the idea, the five writers (none of them female, it should probably be noted) have any idea of what to do with it and instead revert to the kind of heavy-handed sexist bullshit that it likes to think that it is criticizing. (Of all the girls next door, the only one who is given even the vaguest character shadings is Shelby and she spends most of her time acting like a monstrous and decidedly unlikable brat.) The rest of the time is dedicated to the kind of stuff that one might expect from a “Neighbors” sequel—pot jokes, gross-out humor (it says a lot when an opening bit involving Kelly’s morning sickness is not the most repulsive pregnancy-related sight gag in the film) and pratfalls of such a violent nature that they are simply too wince-inducing to laugh at. And since none of the characters are especially likable—Moretz is a borderline psychopath, Rogen and Byrne are dopes and Efron’s man-child is just kind of sad and creepy—there is literally no one to root for here.

Amidst the dross, there are a couple of funny moments here and there but for the most part, “Neighbors 2” is a bust—even a sequel to the 1981 John Belushi-Dan Aykroyd dark comedy of the same name might have been a better idea than this. With its sloppy production values (it has been so shoddily edited that it looks like a rough assembly of footage than a final cut for the most part), hateful characters and its tired extension of a film that didn't exactly lend itself to a sequel in the first place, this is a film that never once manages to make a case for its own existence. The only possible bright side to it is that maybe some funny women will watch it (presumably under duress), take the idea of a sorority bucking the system and transform it into the kind of clever, insightful and funny movie that it deserves.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27541&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/19/16 16:00:16
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User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell THE ORIGINAL SUX IS THIS ANY BETTER? 1 stars
6/10/16 Jeff Wilder Thinks gratuitous use of the f word makes up for lack of real humor. 1 stars
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  20-May-2016 (R)
  DVD: 06-Sep-2016


  DVD: 06-Sep-2016

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