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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Blu-ray Review)

16 Sep, 2016 By: John Latchem

Street 9/20/16
Box Office $55.34 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for crude sexual content including brief graphic nudity, language throughout, drug use and teen partying
Stars Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Carla Gallo.

Comedy sequels looking to avoid ending up with an unoriginal remake of the first movie but still hoping to retain the elements the audience enjoyed about it will invariably fall back on a couple of tried-and-true formulas — either putting the characters in a new setting or inverting the original premise.

Well, Neighbors 2 isn’t quite ready to move out of the neighborhood of the first movie, as Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), having defeated the frat next door in the previous movie, are looking to sell their house and move to the suburbs.

Not so fast. While their house is in escrow, a group of college freshmen looking to party without the threat of sexual assault decide to form their own sorority, and set up shop in the former frat-house. The girls, led by Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz), have no idea what they’re doing, so they turn to frat-king Teddy (Zac Efron) for guidance.

The constant parties cause Mac and Kelly to panic about their potential buyers backing out of the deal. But the girls’ rebuff a request to tone it down until after escrow closes, so Mac and Kelly scheme to shut them down, leading to a new prank war between the two houses.

The girls instead of guys angles is enough of a twist on the premise to justify the sequel, but the inversion is completed when Teddy decides the sorority is too extreme in its pranks and switches sides, seeking a bit of revenge after the girls evict him for pointing out that their scheme to raise money by selling weed at a football game is highly illegal.

Neighbors 2 turns out to be a nice continuation of the storyline established in the first movie while maintaining the raunchy tone its fans will expect. The jokes this time around are built around how dumb college kids seem to be (thinking of their rent in terms of buckets of money raised from sorority dues), and how growing up doesn’t necessarily make the adults any smarter. Much like the first movie, there are a few laugh-out-loud gags, plus a few disgusting ones. The movie also does a nice job finding some new motivations for the characters, with the quest for adulthood of the first film morphing into the challenges of parenthood here (with Teddy earning his version of Mac and Kelly’s story arc from the first film).

The Blu-ray includes an informative feature-length commentary with co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller and producer James Weaver in which they discuss the process of switching up the formula from the first film, and the inherent challenges therein, while offering some screenwriting tips. They also point out how much of the film had to be re-shot because so many of the jokes weren’t working with test audiences.

Some of those unused sequences are part of the 24 minutes of deleted scenes included with the Blu-ray.

Other extras include “Nu Neighbors,” a brisk eight-minute making-of featurette that covers the gamut from writing to acting to the process of creating fake used tampons; “The Prodigal Bros. Return,” a five-minute glimpse at the fraternity pals from the first movie; “Girls Rule,” a six-minute look at the new sorority sisters (which includes Beanie Feldstein, who is Jonah Hill’s sister, and Kiersey Clemons, slated to play the love interest in the upcoming The Flash movie); a five minute “The Ultimate Tailgate” piece about shooting an action scene at the football game; and a four-and-a-half-minute gag reel.

About the Author: John Latchem

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