Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien’s lazy script for the 2014 comedy “Neighbors” fell apart because there were plot holes big enough to sink a university. They appeared to have remedied that gaff with the sequel, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” only to return to their lazy tendencies, making the project flunk out.
Initial ideas about empowering young women, the importance of feeling wanted and the wisdom that comes with age are replaced by a series of crude jokes. The most disturbing is how the young women start off as strong warriors, but when faced with a challenge, resort to their sexuality as a means to solve a problem. Or, they need support from someone older when they can’t figure out what to do.
The first “Neighbors” was nothing more than a married couple of idiots (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) doing battle with obnoxious fraternity brothers under the command of Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), a college senior with a Peter Pan complex.
This second attempt picks up with the couple trying to sell their house. Their escrow period is in jeopardy when a sorority moves in next door.
The young women want to start their own sorority and host parties. They think it’s unfair that only fraternities are allowed to host such events. This is the first example of the writers doing whatever they need to move the story ahead. There is no actual law about sorority parties, but it is something that is not condoned by the national organization that governs the top sororities.
But, the plot must go on.
This sets up a battle between the sorority and the couple that sinks to the same kind of juvenile actions that were featured in the first film. The writers give up on any idea that the actions of the young women are motivated by a higher calling and fall back on absurd ideas in a lame effort to generate jokes.
When the sorority decides to become the lone pot dealer on campus, the couple decide to steal the marijuana so that the girls won’t be able to pay the rent. A call to the police would have been easier and quicker.
Then Cohen and O’Brien make the sorority look painfully cruel. They steal everything the Radner’s own and sell it at a yard sale. Again, call the cops and end the movie.
There is at least one good storyline where Efron’s character shows some emotional growth on his way to feeling wanted. It’s a sweet performance that doesn’t quite fit the mean and idiotic tone of the rest of the film.
Rogen and Bryne again manage to make the couple who should be the sympathetic victims of this rush hour abuse come across as the kind of neighbors no one would want. When the biggest joke is them allowing their young daughter to play with a pink vibrator, there’s no question the writers had no good ideas.
They even resort to Kelly vomiting into Mac’s face as a way to get a laugh. It’s at least easy to relate to the scene because that’s what watching this movie feels like.
For one brief moment, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” looks like it had graduated into a better and more coherent brand of humor. That ends quickly and this sequel proves as unlikable as the original.
This is one “Sorority” from which you will want to rush away.