Reviewed by: Joseph Gabriel
rude and vulgar behavior
sorority house activities
husband wife relationship
How important is it to be “Politically Correct”? Answer
THE NEW TOLERANCE—It’s politically correct, but does it hold danger for followers of Christ? Is love the same thing as tolerance? Answer
Seth Rogen … Mac Radner
Zac Efron … Teddy Sanders
Rose Byrne … Kelly Radner, Mac's wife
Selena Gomez … Madison, the president of Phi Lambda
Lisa Kudrow … Dean Carol Gladstone
Chloë Grace Moretz … Shelby, the leader and founder of Kappa Nu
Ike Barinholtz … Jimmy Blevins, Mac’s colleague and best friend
Dave Franco … Pete Regazolli, a former member of Delta Psi Beta and Teddy's best friend
Kiersey Clemons … Beth, a member and co-founder of Kappa Nu
Abbi Jacobson …
Carla Gallo … Paula Faldt, Jimmy’s remarried wife
Hannibal Buress … Officer Watkins
LL Cool J …
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|Director:||Nick Stoller—“Neighbors” (2014), “Get Him to the Greek” (2010)|
Point Grey Pictures
Prequel: “Neighbors” (2014)
Comedy sequels tend to be very hit-or-miss. Some of the most beloved comedies of all time have given birth to truly atrocious sequels that do nothing but poorly rehash jokes from the original and leave the viewer feeling ripped off (looking at you, “Zoolander 2”). The first “Neighbors” was a humorous, but morally bankrupt raunch-fest that seemed to exist solely to push as many envelopes as possible. It really wasn’t anything special, despite the efforts of a highly talented cast and the presence of some genuinely funny material. It completely wrapped up its story in the end, leaving no true room for a sequel. What I’m trying to say is, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is completely unnecessary. But, hey, the first one was a box-office smash so, of course, the people behind it couldn’t help themselves. However, is this a good sequel that improves upon the original—or, at the very least, lives up to it—or does it find a home amongst the terrible ones? Let’s find out.
The plot involves Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz), a college freshman, who becomes fed up with the rules for sororities in the United States prohibiting wild, out-of-control parties. Knowing that the system fully allows (and even seems to encourage) “rapey” frat parties, she decides to start her own sorority along with two other girls she befriends in college. Her sorority will throw the wildest parties a person could ever imagine, complete with full allowance of drug and alcohol use. This, as Shelby sees it, is a statement against the sexist, repressive system which encourages men to act irresponsibly while keeping women down and out of all the “fun.” What could possibly go wrong with this plan? A lot, actually.
As it turns out, the house where Shelby and her friends start their debauchery-laden sorority just happens to be the same house where Teddy (Zac Efron), the frat leader from the first “Neighbors”, established his frat and annoyed his neighbors, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), to no end. Mac and Kelly, who are in the process of selling their house, must find a way to shut down the crazed sorority and recruit Teddy himself to help in the process. What ensues is an all-out war between the married couple and the sorority sisters.
Credit where credit is due, “Neighbors 2” is an absolute hoot. There were plenty of times throughout this movie where I literally threw my head back in uncontrollable laughter at the snappy dialog and hilarious situations on display. Yes, some of the jokes do fall a bit flat, but they’re the minority. Most of the jokes here hit bulls-eyes. I saw the film in a packed theater, and the entire audience was screaming out in laughter, so, I can safely say, I wasn’t the only one entertained.
Kudos to this movie for not depending entirely on sex-based humor for its laughs. There’s a surprising amount of jokes here based on nicely done slapstick, witty dialog, and humorous situations. That’s something I can’t say for the first film. The pacing is lightning-fast, the jokes come nonstop, and the performances are great across the board. Zac Efron, in particular, deserves a special mention. This guy’s really growing as a comedic actor, and I look forward to seeing more work from him in the future.
So the movie-making quality is pure sunshine and rainbows. What do I think about the content? Well…
Sexual Content: This is a tough one to nail down. On the one hand, I have to give this movie credit for toning down the over-the-top, graphic sexual content from its predecessor. Usually these raunch-comedy sequels try to push the envelope even further than the original, so I was really surprised to see how tame the sex humor is here when compared to what came before. That being said, this is a still definitely an adult comedy, and there is definitively still a hefty dose of offensive humor on display here.
There are two brief sex scenes between Mac and Kelly; the married couple’s love-making is played for laughs and includes realistic sounds, movements, and “sexy” dialog. Thankfully, we don’t see any actual nudity (no bare breasts, buttocks, or genitals) or pornographic imagery. The actual act occurs under the sheets. We do get some pretty nasty male nudity at one point though. A scene where the ripped Teddy is doing a suggestive dance to distract the sorority sisters ends with him accidentally losing a part of his pants and exposing his genitals (we see them dangle in between his legs from behind in what is a pretty shocking sight that comes out of nowhere). A running gag involves a toddler using her mother’s sex toy as a doll (she even puts little clothes on it to make it resemble one). A fairly realistically modeled clay penis is seen at one point. A frat party includes an obscenely-named room designed for sexual encounters with female party-goers (a poorly drawn penis is glimpsed on the door). A grown man and a college-aged girl touch tongues in a seriously awkward (but thankfully brief) scene. Characters make sexual references on occasion.
Language: Again, the use of language is toned down from the first film (which seemed over-eager to drop multiple f-bombs every 3 seconds). Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. I counted up to 70 f-bombs, over 25 uses of the s-word, slang words for genitals, and about a dozen misuses of both God’s and Jesus’ names. “P**sy” is repeatedly exclaimed in one short scene.
Drug and Alcohol Use: Weed is used throughout. Joints are smoked. Characters are roofied in one scene. Weed is sold at one of the sorority’s events. Alcohol is consumed at parties, and drinkers pass out on the floor from the effects.
Violence: There is comedic slapstick violence—falls, a car incident, a police raid, a slap, whacks, tumbles and bumps.
Other Negative Elements (Extreme Political Correctness): Like the utterly worthless “Mother’s Day” before it, this is another comedy that feels the need to succumb to society’s obsession with “progressiveness” in order to avoid offending the masses and attracting controversy in the mainstream media. We get a smiley-faced promotion for gay marriage. It’s nowhere near as gratuitous as what “Mother’s Day” bombarded us with, but it still leaves an impact (as well as presenting viewers with a gay proposal and kiss scene).
Elsewhere, the film is bent on presenting an empowering feminist message. Unfortunately, said message pretty much amounts to repeatedly showing us college girls partying raucously and irresponsibly as an answer to what men usually do at frat parties. The film doesn’t seem to understand that showing women degrading themselves as much as men do at parties like this isn’t empowering in the slightest. It’s just kind of insulting to women everywhere. I believe in mutual respect and equal treatment between the two sexes, but wild partying and debauchery is no way to empower anyone.
“Therefore, be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is. And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit.” —Ephesians 5:15-18
The night is almost finished. The day is almost here. So we should stop doing whatever belongs to darkness. We should prepare ourselves to fight evil with the weapons that belong to the light. We should live in a right way, like people who belong to the day. We should not have wild parties or be drunk. We should not be involved in sexual sin or any kind of immoral behavior. We should not cause arguments and trouble or be jealous. But be like the Lord Jesus Christ, so that when people see what you do, they will see Christ. Don’t think about how to satisfy the desires of your sinful self. —Romans 13:12-14
Positive Elements: For all their flaws, Mac and Kelly truly want to be good parents for their little girl. We see them discuss their position in her life a couple of times. Mac and Teddy’s budding friendship displays a warm sense of brotherly love. Elsewhere, the film does actually do a decent job of decrying the rampant sexual objectification of women everywhere (specifically at the frat parties, where they’re pretty much treated as sexual scores on a chalkboard).
Conclusion: “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is a well-crafted, funny comedy. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to earn my recommendation. While I do admire it for toning down the first film’s insane level of graphic offensive content, I can’t deny the content issues and dangerous messages still present here.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy to extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.