By Chandler Ross (Los Angeles)
Neighbors 2 is the comedy sequel you didn’t think you actually needed.
Imagine this readers, a remotely smart, comedy film starring top A-list actors succeeds financially and critically, so it’s Hollywood’s next step to obviously make a sequel. Now, I know this tale you’ve read has been done thousands and thousands of times and sometimes succeeds. You know by now that in most cases the sequel will never be able to live up to the standards of the original. Again I say that in most cases. You complain next why does Hollywood have to always ruin a films legacy with that awful not-up-to-par sequel? Now what if I told you that Neighbors 2 has actually done a successful job at crafting the next story of the neighborhood battle between sisterhood and parenthood? Would you believe me? I guess you’ll have to read on to see.
Yes, way back when being only a short two years ago was there a funny, original comedy about a fraternity moving right next door to a residential, married couple and began a battle filled with hijinks, laughter, and penis jokes. It for the most part worked well and even had a message or two about growing up and what happens next after you leave college. Now, here we are only two years later and we have the sequel: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. As you can tell, the sequel follows a sorority moving next door. This idea on paper seems pretty standard and somewhat unnecessary and lazy right? WRONG!
So, Neighbors 2, directed by Nicholas Stoller starts with the returning, hilarious couple of Mac (Seth Rogan) and now-pregnant Kelly (Rose Byrne) who have finally sold their house. However, that dreaded one word in real estate comes to haunt them: escrow. Yes, nothing can go wrong with the house for a 30-day escrow, then they can finally move off the block. Obviously what follows is a sorority moving next door, led by Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz). Returning also is the delightful Teddy (Zac Efron), who teams up with Mac and Kelly to bring this sisterhood to its knees.
You can make the case this films feels unnecessary, but the brilliant script, the same director and its cast performing and utilizing each of their comedic talents, we have a sequel that’s worth watching. First and foremost, the film is funny. Most of the jokes land perfectly due to again its smart and hilarious script. In terms of the cast, I’m glad that Efron was used cleverly in this film again as a dumb, hot but overall lovable and funny character. Rogan and Byrne bring back the great chemistry they had from the first film and still throw some great laughs in as well. As far as newcomer Moretz, she is playing an interesting role; my complaint though is that the film didn’t spend enough time fleshing out her character development. This is partially due to the fact that with the sizable amount of plot to fill and the abundance of old and new characters, the director Stoller didn’t get enough time to really dive deep especially into the new characters. However, as complaints go, that isn’t the worst one to have.
The film also surprises audiences with continuing a smart decision to discuss some really important contemporary, social issues. The sequel continues to touch on finding your place in life and how it sometimes takes time for you to find your calling. Efron’s arc mainly consists of this, making him very relatable to audiences especially to those who are just graduating from college, but maybe have no clue as to what they want for their future. Look I’m now a sophomore in college, and even I don’t know what my true calling is. Neighbors 2 really takes time to show how it’s normal for college students to not exactly have an exact plan as to what they want to do and that they will truly find their calling someday.
However, the majority of the film touches on another huge subject matter and that’s sexism. We may be a very progressive country, but we still have many problems that need to be fixed and sexism is one of them. Even a couple weeks ago it was revealed that Marvel’s Iron Man 3, couldn’t have a female villain because Disney couldn’t sell female villain toys. Or that CBS’s pilot of a Nancy Drew reboot didn’t get picked up to a full series this fall because the show was “too female”. See, there are still issues. So, Neighbors 2 is about bringing awareness, especially in college, about the sometimes sexist Greek system. Selena Gomez’s character even states to Moretz and even the audience that sorority’s can’t throw parties, she even states to look it up. Well, this is true. Shockingly, I did not know this. Throw in the fact that when Moretz and her two hilarious friends Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) arrive to their first frat party, it’s sexist and degrading for woman, as the men are pigs.
Look, I have been to some real fraternity parties, and the film portrays a mediocre accurate example of them. It’s not as awful as they show it on-screen, but I have seen a lot of instances where sexism is very apparent and undertones of women can be clearly just taken for granted. It’s very sad and a harsh truth to college. Neighbors 2 decides to take that and elevate it to light. This fuels Moretz and her friends to make a sorority that empowers women that they should have equal party rights, like the men of fraternities and the girls can be whom they want to be and not have these expectations that they always have to be in dresses and heels and looking their best. Now, that’s a great message to send, especially to a girl who’s just about to enter college to just be herself.
The film even takes its very progressive, solid script and adds in another layer of a message to send to audiences and this one is pretty important. Without spoiling anything, the topic of homosexuality is involved and the film takes its approach by not making a big deal out of it. Shocking isn’t it? Wouldn’t a comedy want to make numerous gay panic jokes, playing out the homophobia route? Not this film, showing how progressive this comedy tends to be.
Comedies always tend to be lazy, filled with gay panic jokes, can be sexist, and the sequels that follow can just be worse. Now, you can imagine my surprise seeing Neighbors 2 and realizing it’s the comedy sequel that I didn’t know I actually needed. It’s also sending a message to Hollywood that comedy films can still be funny and don’t have to be sexist, homophobic, or lazy. When you have great writers, directors, and a talented cast you can create a great hilarious film that also can be smart and throw a message or two at the audience to remind them of such problems. Whether it’s the sometimes sexist nature that this country or Greek system is in, that being gay is just completely normal, or that you’re not going to have your life all figured out right after college, it’s with progression and laughter that Neighbors 2 handles all of these issues.
Now Hollywood, Neighbors 2 may have been the sequel I didn’t think I actually needed, so I think it’s about time to lay this franchise to rest, wouldn’t you agree?
Grade: B+BEST QUOTES