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Friday, May 20, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising 2016 * * Stars

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne

If you've read most of my reviews, you'll know that I set the bar very high for comedies. That's why I pan most of them. Also, if you've read most of my write-ups you'll know that I'm not a huge fan of sequels. Again that's why I pan them as well. With Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, I was hoping all of this would change. Fat chance on that. "Rising's" just not as funny as the original Neighbors. In fact, the only way you could find it funny is if you've never seen the first film, never viewed "Rising's" red band trailer (which includes all the humorous scenes and other guffawed sequences that were left on the cutting room floor), or never took in a gross-out flick in your entire lifetime (I'd say that's a pretty low demographic). What Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising does is make you feel nostalgic for the first Neighbors installment and that was only two years ago. What a pity.

Now in "Rising's" defense, it does bring back all of its likable cast members (Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, etc.). It also creates a decent segway from what transpired in 2014. Lastly, there are in jest, a couple of real laugh-out-loud moments. Bottom line though: Director Nicholas Stoller's execution is not as thought-out this time around, the character development in "Rising" is a little weaker, the actors saddled with a thinner script, don't really bringing their A game (especially Ike Barinholtz as the goofy Jimmy), and the whole feel of the flick is less than over the top (despite some truly vulgar moments). Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising huh. "Neighbors 2: Sorority Dipping" is more like it.

Filmed almost entirely in Atlanta, GA (of course), containing a cameo featuring Kelsey Grammer (really?), referencing 420 (a mainstay), rehashing the in-joke of airbags, and giving a ton of screen time to Zac Efron's abs (was there ever any doubt it would happen?), Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising kinda picks up where the original left off (2-3 years later I'm thinking). The house that the Radner's (played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) so vehemently wanted to keep is now up for sale. They want to move to the suburbs but need to wait thirty days because said house is being subjected to a 30-day escrow. Here's the problem: A sorority headed by Kappa Nu leader Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), has moved in next door. They party hard and make a sh*t ton of noise. Plus, they are more boisterous and stubbornly than the dudes from the Delta Psi fraternity circa '14. Regardless, what we have here is the same premise as the original only now it's gender-reversed. With the help of lost boy Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), the Radner's are hellbent on getting rid of Kappa Nu. This way they can close the deal on their old home and move on to greener pastures (Byrne's character is having another child so they need larger digs).

In "Rising", the ending does provide a patronizing, moral center. But hey, look for a scene where the young college girls throw their bloody tampons at Rogen's character's window (and even at his face, yuk). Also, look for sequences involving visible, fake testicles hanging out (double yuk), a baby's hand sticking out of a woman's womb (triple yuk), and Rose Byrne's Kelly vomiting towards her husband's face (during sex, quadruple yuk). It's all showy and gaudy but not totally funny and way too familiar.

In conclusion, I saw 2014's Neighbors twice at the theater. I still laughed three times as much the first time compared to viewing Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising just 4 hours ago. That's all that needs to be said. Rating: A mixed two stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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