Editor’s Note: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opens in wide theatrical release tomorrow, May 20, 2016.
Following the general premise of the first film, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising builds on the themes of its predecessors – brotherhood (well, in this case, sisterhood), and the importance and strength of unity. With greater effectiveness than the first film, Neighbors 2 successfully weave elements of comedy and drama together into what has become the norm for Seth Rogen films. Rogen once (or perhaps many more times) referred to himself as a “man-child,” a self-made term which can be defined exactly as it sounds. Neighbors 2, directed by Nicholas Stoller, doesn’t stray from Rogen’s comfort zone, but that’s its biggest success – Rogen has come to comfort everybody who have fears about growing up, whether you’re 13, 29, or 39. With the same raunchy comedy from the first film, Stoller directs a film about the challenges in becoming an independent person, and the difficulties of adulthood. In the end, you can’t help but to feel a certain type of joy for the outcome of the film.
Weaving drama and comedy, Stoller crafts a film about adulthood, friendship and occasionally (well, more than just occasionally, but it’s a minor plot point) highlights the importance of feminism.
I once had a film teacher who despised Seth Rogen because “all his movies were the same.” I, on the other hand, believe the complete opposite. Throughout his career, Rogen has made a name for himself in his niche, which can only be defined as an “immature” brand of comedy. Whether it be This is the End or The Night Before or even Steve Jobs, Rogen is always cast as a very similar character. Maybe it’s his distinctive voice, or his laugh. Whatever the quality is, you come to expect a certain performance from Rogen. Neighbors 2 doesn’t attempt to subvert from his stereotypical role, and your enjoyment of the film will be based predominantly on your enjoyment of Rogen’s other works. Returning to what my film teacher said, I believe the opposite because since Rogen first achieved success with his roles in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40 Year Old Virgin, he’s stayed on the course of what he knows best. You either enjoy Rogen, or you don’t. And a big part of whether or not you enjoy Neighbors 2 is directly correlated with how you feel about Rogen’s work.
Outside from Rogen, we see the return of Rose Byrne and Zac Efron, who play their parts well. Though Rogen is the star of the show here, their characters are funny enough to sustain the momentum built out throughout the film to keep the film hilarious, even approaching the second half where the drama aspects of the film get a little heftier. With the positives though, there are a few things that did work with Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, namely problems with the screenplay. Often, lines are delivered in a way which caricatures the characters themselves – exaggerating aspects that don’t necessarily have any importance to the progression of the narrative. Rather, Stoller mistakenly assumes this will make the film funnier, when in fact, it translates through to the audience as a screenplay issue. Further, there are slight pacing issues near the middle of the film, where the film drags more than its other parts. Otherwise, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a rare sequel that’s even better than its predecessor.
You either enjoy Rogen, or you don’t. And a big part of whether or not you enjoy Neighbors 2 is directly correlated with how you feel about Rogen’s work.
Weaving drama and comedy, Stoller crafts a film about adulthood, friendship and occasionally (well, more than just occasionally, but it’s a minor plot point) highlights the importance of feminism. A lot of the comedy is driven by immature gags – there’s nearly nothing inherently clever about the gags showed on screen. But, depending on your tolerance of this brand of humor, and Rogen’s other works, you’ll probably know whether you’ll enjoy Neighbors 2 or not before you even walk into the theatre. As a fan of Seth Rogen, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed his work in Neighbors 2, and look forward to any, and all, of his future projects.
Much of the comedy in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is driven by immature gags, but depending on your tolerance of this brand of humor -- and of Seth Rogen -- you’ll probably know whether you’ll enjoy Neighbors 2 or not before you even walk into the theatre.