“Neighbors 2” is the completely unnecessary sequel to a film I had no idea existed in the first place. It features Zac Ephron — who apparently has a clause that calls for a mandatory shirtless scene in every contract he has signed in the last two years — Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne playing the least likable couple in history, and Chloe Grace Moretz, who should fire her agent immediately, because she is far, far too good for this.
The first film centered on Rogan and Byrne and their battles with the fraternity that had taken up residence in the house next door to theirs. Hijinks nominally ensue as the couple combats with frat boy Ephron in an effort to take back their neighborhood and make it safer for their new baby girl to live and play in. The film made a modest $270 million in worldwide gross and should have been immediately forgotten. But the film only cost Universal $18 million to make, and that kind of obscene return on investment means that a sequel was impossible to avoid.
So here we are. It is two years after the events of the first film, the frat house is gone, and Rogan and Byrne are expecting another baby. It is a blessed event that the audience is clued in on during a sex scene that culminates in Byrne vomiting on Rogan’s face, which is a metaphor for the rest of the film and what it thinks of its audience.
Byrne and Rogan look to sell their house and move to a bigger place to accommodate their growing family, but that effort is complicated when a group of girls, led by Grace Moretz, decides to move into the now-abandoned frat house and start their own, off-campus sorority.
Did you know that sorority houses are not allowed to host alcoholic parties in the houses, while fraternities can? It is really more of a self-imposed guideline than an actual law, but it is indeed a real thing, and “Neighbors 2” feels the need to make sure you know that by telling you that four times. It serves as the whole supporting premise for the film, because “Neighbors 2” attempts to swaddle itself in a ham-fisted, “girl power” theme without wanting to do any of the legwork to actually be empowering to females. Instead, the film is content to fill its 92-minute run time with horrible jokes, lazy plot devices centering on the execution of various felonies, and multiple scenes of the inexplicably shirtless Ephron.
Much like the first film (apparently), the sorority and its neighbors engage in increasingly escalating acts in an effort to get its way. Rogan and Byrne want the girls to not party for 30 days until they sell their house, and the girls do not want to cooperate because Rogan and Byrne are old. That is really about it. This leads to Rogan teaming up with former nemesis Ephron to steal 7 pounds of weed that the sorority is openly selling, with the girls retaliating by — and I’m not making this crap up — changing contact information in Rogan and Byrne’s cell phones, intercepting their text messages to one another, and sending Rogan to Sydney, Australia (or rather, a spectacularly awful green screen of Sydney).
I have no idea how the film resolves itself, because I walked out after about an hour. That is how repellent, unfunny and devoid of any redeeming qualities this abomination is. “Neighbors 2” is barely 90 minutes long. Its creators have essentially said “Give us the equivalent time of three back-to-back episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” and we’ll be done.” And I still could not do it. CV
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”