Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Directed By: Nicholas Stoller

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Kiersey Clemons, and Ike Barinholtz

It wouldn't be the summer movie season without a mindless comedy.  I'm talking about the kind of comedy where logic does not rule and crude is far from rude.  Between the prospect of the Donald hearing "Hail to the Chief" everywhere he goes and planes dropping out of the sky like raindrops, we could all use a laugh or two right about now.  Giving us just what we need, writer-director Nicholas Stoller returns to the big screen with this weekend's Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.  Having helmed the original Neighbors some two years ago, this is familiar territory for Stoller who has been creatively involved with several films in the "Apatow Chapter" of the Frat Pack.  This certainly shows in his sequel to the party-themed comedy that delivers loads of laughs.

It's been several years since Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) went to war with fraternity Delta Psi Beta and their leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron).  Today, the couple is trying to sell their house and move into another home they've just purchased.  With the help of their real estate agent Wendy (Liz Cackowski), Mac and Kelly entice buyers Eric and Jessica Baiers (Sam Richardson and Abbi Jacobson).  Now, the Radner couple is entering a period of escrow, which means that Eric and Jessica can inspect the house anytime and back out of the purchase if they so desire.  With no fraternity next door, Mac and Kelly are desperate that the sale will go through because their financial future depends on it.  As it just so happens, Mac and Kelly have reason to worry.  There's a new sorority in the neighborhood, Kappa Nu.  It certainly doesn't help that the couple has a baby on the way.

Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a new student at the local university, and she's interested in joining Phi Lamda to get the college party life started.  There's just one caveat.  The chapter president (Selena Gomez) informs her that only fraternities can throw parties according to Greek rules.  Uninterested in a barrage of advances from male students and dodging spiked punch for the next four years, she makes friends with fellow freshmen Beth and Nora (Kiersey Clemons and Beanie Feldstein).  The trio founds Kappa Nu, a sorority that doesn't play by the rules of old.  It’s a sisterhood free to throw parties not all about degrading women.  They need housing to really get the sorority started, and they're eying the former home of Delta Psi Beta to the dismay of Mac and Kelly.  With the help of Teddy Sanders, the girls figure out how to make five buckets of money a month to pay for this dilapidated mansion.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
is the rare comedy sequel that I dare say is better than the original.  Shamelessly irreverent, relatively original, and endlessly hilarious, Nicholas Stoller's second foray into this franchise is the kind of comedic gold needed to kick the summer blockbuster season into gear.  Similar to the original, he pulls no punches and most definitely hits some politically incorrect notes.  Flirting with this danger zone is a core component of the film's brand of comedy.  Creatively tinkering with the formula for the modern Frat Pack comedy, Stoller also adds an amusing, offbeat element of female empowerment.  Though offering many of the same sort of antics that defined the original, the “feminist” premise gives the film a fresh twist.  Finally, Stoller delivers laughs hard, fast, and consistently throughout the film.  While most comedies stall in the second act, Neighbors 2 gets its second wind thanks to Stoller never letting up.

The cast delivers the goods as well.  Reprising his role as Mac Radner, Seth Rogen is in good form.  I'm not saying he's old because I'm not too far behind him.  However, the chill 34 year-old comedian is using his age effectively in his arsenal of jokes about the generational gap between the college kids and his band of thirty-something parents.  For her part as Kelly Radner, Rose Byrne makes her second appearance on the big screen this year (following The Meddler).  Once again demonstrating her comedic prowess, Byrne serves up plenty of laughs as a struggling mother with another bun in the oven.  We also have Zac Efron returning as Teddy Sanders.  Seemingly lost this time around, it's amusing to watch this wounded frat alum struggle to find his calling.  He's like a little pet.  Finally, we have Chloë Grace Moretz as this budding young adult trying to do something on her own.  Consistently entertaining, she's a strong but clueless individual.

There's a whole host of supporting cast members who deliver plenty of laughs (especially Kiersey Clemons), but I'd be writing forever and spoiling the movie if I offered any additional commentary.  As it stands, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is edgy and timely.  Serving up fun humor, the movie is the first great mainstream comedy of 2016.  Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.