“Neighbors” was a funny movie. It finally proved the comedic chops of Zac Efron and he and funnyman Seth Rogen made a delightfully dynamic onscreen comedy duo (much like the genius pairing of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in “21 Jump Street”). It’s natural for Universal to keep the comedy going in this inevitable and borderline unnecessary sequel; the good news, however, is that it thankfully doesn’t suck. It sucks very little in fact. Of course it adheres to the time old tradition of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They break out a lot the same jokes that were funny the first time and are actually still funny the second time. There’s plenty of new material too though. This time the lovely Radners (Rogen and borderline comedic goddess Rose Byrne) must team up with their archenemies Teddy (Efron) to destroy the new sorority who has just moved in next door so that they can successfully sell their home. It’s a lot of the same raunchy shenanigans but with more bloody tampons.
As the film begins we check back in with Marc and Kelly Radner who find out they’re pregnant with their second child. Their first baby Stella is now a little toddler whose fondness for her mother’s vibrator is one of the film’s most delightfully dirty gags. Marc and Kelly are on the brink of selling their house and moving to a quieter neighborhood. However, their realtor informs them they’re in escrow, meaning their potential buyers have 30 days to reject their offer. Unlucky for them a new sorority has been formed by new college freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) after finding out the sorority she planned to rush can’t throw their own parties. She rents the house next to the Radners on the advice of Teddy who just can’t seem to grow up (or get a decent job). His friend’s lives are flourishing with the announcement of his best friend Pete’s engagement (who is now proudly gay). Teddy soon becomes Kappa Nu’s mentor since being a frat guy is the only live skill he’s learned in four years at college. But after the girls reject the smothering Teddy he vows vengeance and switches sides and aligns with his former enemies the Radners.
Nicholas Stoller’s “Neighbors 2” is one of those sequels that changes very little of the formula from the first time around and it mostly works. The writers (all five of them dudes) inject a little feminist empowerment (I think?) this time around by showing girls can be just as raunchy as men (which was basically the point of the Anna Farris comedy “The House Bunny” but way less successful). They do make a good point about sororities not being allowed to throw their own parties, but I doubt is a real thing, and I’m not going to justify it by even looking it up. However, they do make a good point in that they can throw a kick-ass party with drinking and drugs without needing to act like sluts or practically sell themselves to guys. Sure it’s sketchy at best but you have to admire the filmmakers’ attempt at political correctness. After all, besides a brief encounter with the girls in bikinis and Kelly’s garden hose, Efron’s flesh seems more on display here than the women’s. There’s literally a scene where Efron is rubbed with a greasy piece of meat before showing off “Magic Mike” moves. This is an equal opportunity kind of raunch fest.
The bottom line is that is you found the first movie funny then surely you’ll find this one hilarious as well. Byrne and Rogen are enjoyable as always and Efron gets to show off more than his eight pack throughout. The film even gets to say a lot more about growing up, making something of yourself, and finding your place in the world. You can easily identify with the characters whether it’s the freshmen girls, Teddy’s hesitancy to grow up, or Kelly and Marc questioning whether or not they’re good parents. After all, a comedy with progressive ideals and Cosby rape jokes isn’t that bad in my opinion. GRADE: B
Trailer for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising on TrailerAddict.