In a highly saturated sequel market, there are some franchise entries whose existence really does beg belief. Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising, is one of them. Its original carried over nothing spectacular, grossed a moderately successful amount of money, and was a passingly entertaining gross-out, messy comedy. So evidently, the studio deemed it worthy to throw together a follow up. The result: an entry more ramshackle and more pointless, but with some surprisingly funny, but sparse, gags.
Set a year after the first, Seth Rogan, who also co-writes, and Rose Byrne are expecting a second child. They are preparing to sell their house, and are given a 30-day escrow when a buyer agrees. However, a hard partying sorority led by Chloe Grace Moretz moves in next door and proceed to wreak havoc in the neighbourhood, so Seth and Rose seek help from former neighbor Zac Efron to help bring them down.
The premise is pretty much everything that was in the first, only with the gender of the bad neighbours swapped. This kind of direction brings the film no favours in justifying its existence, and brings forth lasting problems of narrative messiness. The film is completely ramshackle, jumping and flailing from scene to scene with no clear path of where to go. It’s like a mad child who’s just eaten several bags of your most extravagant sweet collection and is on a sugar rush. It hits and bounds and waves around as much as possible in an attempt to bag a bullseye of a gag. The jokes don’t hit for the majority, but when it does, the laughs do come sporadically.
There are few bad things to say about the cast. Seth Rogan is innocently charming as a middle-aged parent, and Rose Byrne, whose sophistication benefits her comedy tremendously, has always had a knack for, making a not quite so likable character, likable. Chloe Grace Moretz works well as a party-hard sorority girl fed up with college sexism, which incidentally is something the film attempts to address in a serious way – a fact that is nice to see. Although sadly, it becomes so silly and ramshackle with an over-reliance on hammering in the same message through similarly structured sketches that you struggle to take anything the film puts forward seriously. Finally, Zac Efron brings an innocently juvenile charm to his role, which really does not progress from the previous film, though he may just about earn some forgiveness for the monstrous abomination Dirty Grandpa. Just.
Utterly disposable, ramshackle, confused, messy and pointless, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising will hit solid riffs for many audience members as a fun Friday evening at the cinema, despite those riffs only hitting their mark in limited portions of the film. Bar that, there really is very little else to say about it. There is nothing offensive about it but also nothing memorable.