Neighbors 2 Plays It Safe and Succeeds (Movie Review)

Neighbors 2I have a weird kind of attachment to the first Neighbors outing.  It’s not because I liked it a lot, but it’s because it’s the last time my parents came down to visit me in Austin, TX.  You see, besides some friends, my parents are the only ones who have ever came down to visit me family-wise since I’ve been down here for over three years now and apparently not going anywhere soon.  It doesn’t make sense either given the fact that my entire family is located up in frigid Cleveland, OH.  Sure there are many things up there that are severely lacking in Austin, TX like professional sports, casinos and real places to eat breakfast, but give me a freaking break.  The weather up there absolutely sucks during the winter.  However, I digress as I feel myself veering way off of topic here.  I need to transition back to Neighbors now after I hit the return key to start the next paragraph.

So the last time my parents were down here in 2014 we wanted to introduce them to what it was like to go to a movie place that serves food, most notably the Alamo Drafthouse chain of theaters down here.  They don’t get out much and there wasn’t much playing movie-wise when they were down here.  I had missed the press screening for Neighbors and I knew my parents liked to laugh, sometimes, so I did not hear much raunchy things about the film and thus decided I would treat them to that as an introduction to what the Alamo Drafthouse is all about.  I never sat so low in a theater seat as after each obscenity and sexual innuendo I literally sunk lower and lower in my movie chair.  My face must have been fifty shades of red.  They laughed at most of the onscreen events, but it’s just not a film you take your parents to if you’re not comfortable with that kind of subject matter in their presence.  Oh well, lesson learned the hard way and that’s my Neighbors story.

Neighbors 2

Now we fast forward two years later and we have a sequel to the Neighbors saga titled Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.  Nicholas Stoller directs the film written by a slew of writers, including himself plus Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.  Rogen, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz and Rose Byrne are joined this time out with one of my favorite young actresses, Chloe Grace Moretz.  My is she growing up, but I digress again.  Haha.  There are a bunch of other cameos throughout, but in conscience effort not to spoil anything, I’ll stay tight lipped about them all.  So let’s chat next about what it’s all about because it’s definitely not rocket science by any means.

Once again, this Neighbors 2 film is about to hit home for me as well, not like its predecessor did, but in a much different way in regards to a familiar place my girlfriend and I find ourselves right now in our personal lives.  Our story picks up with the familiar faces of Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne) and they are expecting their second child.  That is not where our lives are connected, but this next point is.  They have thirty days to close on the sale of their home and all the sudden they get the “neighbor” from hell.  Gawd!  Can this movie come out a few months after I get over all of this drama in my personal life?  We are on our third buyer now trying to get rid of our Austin, TX home while at the same time trying to also escape that “neighbor” from hell.  That’s all I will say in fear she will probably read this, wield a machete and come after me.  Yes, I’m very scared of what’s she capable of, but for the third time here, I digress.

So with the couple’s house subjected to that dread 30-day escrow waiting/closing period a new sorority this time is established next to them, the Kappa Nu.  Their ring leader is Shelby (Moretz) and she’s relentless the she wants to be, but she also has some confidentiality issues to contend with too (kinda how Efron’s character fits in).  In typical sequel fashion, the protagonists and even the antagonist of the previous film must unite (think Marvel’s Civil War for an example) to prevent the hopeful buyers from pulling out of the deal and battle the baddies, in this case the sorority sisters.  Ugh.  This just literally tears at my gut and hits home so hard for me.  I think you probably know who I was rooting for throughout the film’s entire 92-minute runtime.  Haha.  And now that I have taken it all in, here’s what I thought about it all, the movie that is.

Neighbors 2

To make a long story short, Neighbors 2 is the sequel we deserve, but with caution…it’s very tame.  That’s right folks, Neighbors 2 plays it very safe akin to how The Hangover: Part Two ultimately plays out sans the duplicate storyline.  It’s very hard to explain, but while the first Neighbors had me laughing hysterically throughout with its constant obscenities and pranks Neighbors 2 feels like it could have almost been cut to a PG-13 rating if it wasn’t for the F-bombs and a few shots of for lack of a better term…balls.  There are a lot of laugh out loud moments in this one, but at the end of the day it’s all heart and growth, more so than I was expecting.

Maybe it was Chloe (she does not do it for me at all as a sexy college-aged girl) or maybe it was the fact that thee characters have all really grown up since we have last scene them, but something was missing for me chemistry wise.  When Rogen or Efron wasn’t onscreen and interacting with others, I found myself bored at times.  However, when Efron and Rogen are in full force, the laughs are loud and furious.  I just wish there were more of them.  The principals of the first film were there, but the sorority sisters just didn’t have the same pizzaz as Efron and the boys had two years ago.  The jokes all felt regurgitated and stitched together, but make no mistake about it that Efron and Rogen are the glue that hold this comedy together and they are solely responsible for making this something refreshing, that is a comedy sequel actually worthwhile even if it isn’t as rowdy and crowd pleasing for me as its predecessor.  It’s still a barrel of monkeys to play with, and who doesn’t like a barrel of monkeys?  I know.

The only thing I don’t get are all the critics out there that praise Neighbors 2 for being better than the first.  I just don’t see it.  The way I do see it is this one’s a gender swap.  The ladies get their jiggy on in this one, but it’s just not as over-the-top as insane as if it were guys and I hope I don’t come across as being sexist for saying that.  Haha.  Where Efron’s character in the first film was secure and sure of himself, Chloe’s character was not here and for me she never felt as menacing and relentless as Zac did in the first outing.  But that’s just my two cents and by no means should it stop you from enjoying the laughs and mad comedic genius moments that Neighbors 2 does have to offer you this weekend at the movies.  After all, laughter is the best medicine and just seeing how the tables have turned for Efron’s character from the first film and how everyone is so grown up (great character growth) is worth the price of admission for me.  Enjoy!

Neighbors 2 Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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