Neighbors 2 is fun. Neighbors 2 is funny. Neighbors 2 is progressive. Neighbors 2 is kind of a mess.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is trying to do and be a lot of things, and juggle far more characters than I anticipated. I almost wish they had dropped Efron and his fraternity brothers from this movie all together (even though Efron is easily one of the highlights of the movie) and focused more on the parents and the girls. Rogen and Byrne’s characters practically seem like afterthoughts in the overall scheme of things. And the exposition it requires to get all of these characters into place so that they can tell a fun story about feminism and parenting and growing up all feels pretty forced.
All that criticism out of the way, I really enjoyed Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Rogen continues to be a strong voice for my generation by smartly growing up with us, and you could actually argue in this movie he’s finally giving us permission to grow up. Efron once again shows a strong sense of comedic timing and a self-awareness that makes him infinitely likable. And all the other men are very funny (“This is your training day!” is Hannibal Buress’ only line and I’ll remember it forever) but I don’t even want to talk about them when the women in this movie are so funny, given so much to do, and only ever talk to each other about men when it’s to point out how awful they are.
Moretz, Clemons, and Feldstein comprise the trio of girls that start their own sorority to combat a real problem in the U.S. – that girls ain’t allowed to party! Actually, the specific problem is that sorority’s literally are not legally allowed to throw parties, and must instead attend parties at frats. I say literally because this is just true – it is a fact of the real world; not invented for the plot of this movie. It is yet another system designed to keep women in a position of powerlessness and for men to take advantage of that forced position. And Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is all about bucking that system.
These women get to be funny, wild, and weird without ever being criticized for it (except by shitty men). The movie goes out of its way to point out that it’s allowing these women to make really gross jokes, and that we as an audience wouldn’t be so grossed out by them if a man were delivering them. The movie goes out of its way to address a lot of very current, gender-related issues – dick pics, man-splaining, date rape, and how sexy Zac Efron is. It’s fantastically feminist (even if it has to remind you that by using that word every 5 minutes or so) and a joy to watch my generation’s chosen Man-Boy have to reckon with his own career and sense of humor in regards to its treatment of women.
I wish Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising felt less like a mash-up of all of these characters and ideas and more like a cohesive whole, but as a feminist comedy for both men and women I’m pretty happy with what they delivered. Certainly one of the better comedy sequels I’ve seen.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising scored: ★★★☆☆