Co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller has somehow made Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (aka Bad Neighbours 2) both an enjoyable and hilarious sequel to the first Neighbors while also being enough of a familiar derivative to that film without wearing out its relatively thin but winning premise. Stoller and company waste no time in delivering some truly remarkable and funny antics without ever stretching credulity too much as they frame the film as a another situational farce this time through the female lens of college life.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne (still the MVP of the film) are back and foolish as ever as young parents just hoping to sell their house and expand their family. Enter Chloë Grace Moretz as a mischievous freshman, sick of traditional sorority politics, looking to start her own sisterhood (Kappa Nu) and fight for female equality on campus. Quickly, she recruits Zac Efron's Teddy, who has a surprisingly deep arc, to rile up the same old neighbours and establish themselves. Efron is introduced as a tragic figure hopelessly lost and looking to move on past his college days as his fraternity brothers, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plassse, and Jerrod Carmichael, have all moved onto young adulthood.
Ike Barinholtz returns as a the goofy sidekick Jimmy along with a his pregnant cohort Carla Gallo as the pair egg on Rogen and Byrne's Mac and Kelly into an escalating series of hijinx. Kiersey Clemons and Selena Gomez have small but substantial roles as opposing sorority sisters supporting the cause. All the characters, even the ultra male ones, add to the overall theme of female empowerment and the bonds of sisterhood rather well in the most raucous and debaucherous of ways. The idea of doubling down on the basic premise of the first film by using young women and raising the issue of gender equality was a smart move while adding to the many comedic possibilities.
What makes Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising such a pleasing comedy sequel is both its adherence to the original's basic formula while injecting more than enough fresh elements to make the comedy as relevant as ever. The feminist themes and making the antagonists a group of misguided eighteen-year-old girls really makes the film a step up in terms of its themes about maturing, growing up, and moving on the that next step in adulthood. It's not only a laugh riot but a fluid summation of the troubled experiences of young women.
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