I did not see the first Neighbors, mainly because I usually feel too old and too square for Seth Rogen comedies. While one dick joke or stoner joke might be funny to me, I can’t handle 2 hours of it. That’s just a personal preference, I actually really enjoy him in ensemble comedies. The first Neighbors came out in 2014, and essentially featured Rogen and Rose Byrne as a young married couple dealing with the horror of living next door to a fraternity.
In this swiftly made sequel, the couple, Mac and Kelly Radner, are pregnant with their second child and getting ready to move out of their house and into a bigger more isolated location, where the neighbors are further away.
All they have to do is make sure the current house stays lovely for the next month while they are in escrow. The new buyers can stop by at any time, and any off-putting moment could be enough for them to back out of the deal.
Everything going fine when suddenly, new college freshmen Shelby, Beth and Nora move in to the old frat house next door. They are frustrated with the sorority options on campus.
Apparently sororities are not allowed to ‘party’ only frats are – and those parties are all a bit…sexist doesn’t quite cover it – let’s go with rapey. Very very rapey. The girls just want to hang out, smoke weed, and dance. Feeling like they have no options to do that on campus, and under the guidance of Teddy Sanders (the infamous frat dude from the first movie), they get the house next door and start their own external sorority, where they can throw the themed parties they want to, without constantly worrying that they’ll be drugged and raped. Teddy is going through his own nonsense, since his best bud Pete is getting married and wants him out of their house.
Teddy starts to help the girls get pledges, members, and throw parties. The Radners get upset and try to shut down the sorority, which proves difficult, especially with Teddy helping them. The girls eventually kick Teddy out, and he switches sides, helping the Radners shut down the girls. Hijinks ensue.
The movie, like the first one, is directed by Nicholas Stoller – who also did Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek – so he’s used to R-rated comedies, and this one is certainly rated R. There’s a running gag throughout the movie of the Radner’s toddler daughter playing with a dildo as her favorite toy, and that’s mild compared to some of the other jokes. Yes, there were many laughs throughout, and chances are – if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.
- Seth Rogen stars as Mac Radner, and once again – seems to play Seth Rogen. He’s a stoner not quite sure he’s a good parent and a little overwhelmed at the thought of a second child. Once he teams up with Teddy, they become a bit of a wrecking crew, neither of which is the brains of the operation.
- Zac Efron and his abs (seriously, they featured in the movie so much they needed their own credit) play Teddy – a self-absorbed jackass who just wants to feel valued, and isn’t really finding that at his retail job as all his friends have grown up and gotten real careers. Efron is good at playing dumb and pretty – so he should be great in the Baywatch remake/spoof that’s coming up this summer.
- Rose Byrne continues to be surprisingly good at slapstick comedy for a British lady. She was very funny in Bridesmaids and continues that trend here. Kelly Radner stays just on the edge of surprised panic for most of the movie, and can really curse out a kid with the best of them. Her final resolution with the sorority next door is both sudden and implausible, but it works for the movie.
- Chloe Grace Moretz continues to age in front of us and this time plays stoner college freshman Shelby. She doesn’t really seem to have a goal for the movie aside from just partying as much as possible, but only the way she wants to. I kept wondering if any of the ‘college’ kids in this movie were actually going to any classes.
- Kiersey Clemons plays Beth, one of the three girls. She gets next to nothing to do, and a scene where L.L. Cool J played her father was cut out, which is a shame.
- Beanie Feldstein plays Nora – and again, really has nothing to do, Moretz is the leader of the trio, so the other two are just there to complete her triangle of crazy. It’s a shame, because I feel like they could have added a bit more given the opportunity.
- Ike Barinholtz plays Jimmy – Mac’s friend and go to insane person. He and his wife are also expecting, and they try to help out in the battle with the sisters next door.
- Dave Franco plays Pete again – and while not in this movie as much, he does steal quite a few of the scenes he’s in. His boyfriend proposes to him at the beginning of the movie, prompting him to kick out Teddy, which then leads to Teddy floundering and finally growing up.
- Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Mintz-Plasse basically cameo as former frat buddies; I’ll assume they were in the first movie – and Hannibal Buress cameos as Carmichael’s cop partner in a funny scene where they try to shut down as many weed dealers in the area as possible.
- Selena Gomez keeps her hands to herself while playing the president of Phi Lamda, a sorority on campus that Shelby, Beth and Nora attempt to pledge, but then hate, but then come back around to accepting at the end of the movie.
Overall I laughed more than I thought I would, but I still spent a lot of time being grossed out. I did try to remember that this is a slapstick comedy, so I should not expect any of the characters to have any real growth or development through the story. Even the three girls have very little arc. They eventually become so desperate to get money to stay in the house that they end up throwing one of the type of parties they hate – then are guided by Kelly to realize that they don’t have to compromise their values to get what they want, and instead go back to throwing their type of parties where they could be themselves. Was that growth? Not really, they just get back to where they started. I suppose you could argue that’s a positive message for young women, but it’s buried under so much nonsense that I couldn’t really get behind that. And honestly, the Danny Glover in me just kept wondering if there were no classes at this college? At all? Because none of these kids seem to be going to classes. All they do is smoke weed and party, and I’m pretty sure you can’t get a degree in that. I did enjoy that the girls referred to their new pledges as minions – and literally for any scene with them, they dressed like, acted like and sounded like the yellow animated minions – very clever. There are certainly parts that are funny, and if you don’t go in expecting more than that – you’ll be pleased.
5 out of 10 – Gained points for Seth Rogen’s painted-on abs. Lost points for no one at this college going to any classes whatsoever. Also – Kelsey Grammer cameo – not sure if that gains you points or loses you points.
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