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Pointless Trip Back to ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – The original “Neighbors” was a funny enough movie, that still boasted at least a couple of big laughs. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” only manages the occasional chuckle here and there. As far as big budget studio comedy sequels go, it’s not as bad as “The Hangover 2.” It’s more in line with “Ghostbusters 2”…a forgettable film driven solely by commerce that only serves to make the original look that much better by comparison.

This time around Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) have a second baby on the way –and are selling their house – when a new sorority headed by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) moves in next door. Worried that the sorority will spook the buyers, Rogen and company essentially perform a gender switcheroo remake of the first movie – first they try to play nice with the new girls next door, and then end up in an all out war.

Zac Efron, Seth Rogen
Zac Efron and Seth Rogen in ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’
Photo credit: Universal Studios

“Neighbors 2” is weakest when it tries to recycle or regurgitate gags that worked in the first film – so Rose Byrne’s raunchy gross out gag is far less successful, and the reasoning behind shoehorning Zac Efron back into the mix seems faulty at best.

Efron, in what is turning out to be one of his best comic roles on film, lends his dead-eyed stare to the character of Teddy, and it still kind of works. He’s a mimbo in the middle of a quarter life crisis, and bumping up against the reality that shirtless dancing and six pack abs don’t count for as much in the real world, while the rest of his frat brothers grow up. He decides to help the new sorority get off the ground because he wants to feel valued and to find a new community.

There are gross out gags, weed gags, sex toy gags, and the usual college party gags, but the biggest set pieces don’t necessarily produce the biggest laughs. Rogen, one of five credited screenwriters, manages to squeeze humor out of throw away lines – plus he has such an easy and winning chemistry with Rose Byrne that they’re charming, even while recounting parenting mistakes during an argument about who’s more unfit to raise a child.

Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz
Chloe Grace Moretz and Zac Efron in ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’
Photo credit: Universal Studios

But all-in-all this enterprise can’t quite shake the air of desperation and a dearth of ideas. The story packs in one subplot after another. even as it packs in twice as much plot in even less running time than the first film. The best that can be said about Chloe Grace Moretz is that she is less annoying than usual, but not much in the way of an asset.

The film does get some mileage out of its pro-female empowerment message, but it’s too slapdash to call it a theme – it’s merely one tool among many which is thrown at the screen. While bits like an elaborate weed heist set at a college tailgate, and a Hannibal Burress’ riff on “Training Day” does work, much of the rest of the film does not. Audiences deserve better “Neighbors” than this movie hood.

”Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” opens everywhere on May 20th. Featuring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Selena Gomez and Hannibal Buress. Written by Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbert. Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters

By SPIKE WALTERS
Contributor
HollywoodChicago.com
spike@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2016 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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