“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” Falls Flat

by Hunter Lanier on May 24, 2016 in Entertainment, Film,
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Here is a film of lazy, directionless non-jokes. There are times during the film where some set-up seems to be occurring, but rather than a punchline of some sort, it culminates in a character either falling over, yelling something inappropriate or a montage of college students jumping up and down to what sounds like the latest single from your office fax machine. 

This sequel is essentially an un-enchanting retelling of the first. Courtesy photo
This sequel is essentially an un-enchanting retelling of the first. Courtesy photo

It’s the same story as the first entry, except instead of a frat making life miserable for Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne—I refuse to learn their characters’ names—it’s a sorority. The sorority is the same as any fraternity, except they say “sorry” and smile a lot. The couple is aided in their conquest to oust the girls by their former arch-nemesis, Zac Efron, who finds adulthood severely lacking in glow sticks. The two sides clash in ways I can barely remember 30 minutes after having witnessed it.

Rose Byrne, like in the first film, overshadows her co-stars more steeped in the world of comedy. It’s because she plays it straight, giving the stupidest, least calculated line of dialogue the same attention as the more advanced lines–the same reason why Alec Baldwin is so good on SNL. However, my one laugh—which might have been a cough, now that I think about it—was elicited by Ike Barinholtz dressed like a clown, running and cackling his way through a tailgate party, all of which is shot with guerrilla camerawork. It’s the only time in the film where crude stupid is processed and refined into funny stupid.

At the risk of appearing totally useless, the film crams in a message of gender-equality, which is nice and all, but it comes off as half-baked. Likewise, the film attempts to construct a character arch for Efron’s abject frat boy, which collapses under the weight of my apathy towards the character and his feelings. Before attempting a character arch, there must be some meaningful foundation that goes beyond Efron shooting the camera a sad look in the first act. 

Like one of its parties, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is nonsensical, sensory-assaulting gibberish, and is essentially the adult version of having someone dangle some colorful, plastic keys in your face. If you take away the language and a couple of the more off-color stunts, the film could easily be buried in the Friday night line-up of ABC Family and nobody would ever know. 

1 out of 5