Feminism strikes back in Nicholas Stoller’s Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. The story centers on three college freshmen who, repulsed by the rapey frat parties and Panhellenic restrictions on sororities from throwing parties, decide to start their own sorority, which happens to be next door to the house that a couple (Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne) are trying to sell. That couple’s nemesis (Zac Efron), from the first Neighbors movie, for lack of anything better to do, ends up being the wild card, helping and hurting both sides. In addition to the spunky, snarky riffs on college life and the Greek system, Neighbors 2 does a surprisingly good job of utilizing Zac Efron, whose broey sincerity and patheticness, fuel a lot of the laughs. The bawdy jokes are hit-and-miss and some of the outlandish physical humor you may find tiring or hilarious—à chacun son goût. The movie moves briskly; the tailgate, the movie’s most striking scene of action is shot and edited, using fastmo and slomo, to look like a thriller. Like Efron’s character, Neighbors 2 is a well-oiled machine, fine-tuned for maximum laughs, with every scene being integral to the tight, though ridiculous, plot. In sum, Neighbors 2 is a movie of contradictions. It’s sentimental and obscene, predictable and surprising, progressive and regressive, clever and corny; its characters break free of the bondage of misogynistic expectations while culturally appropriating.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White