Blu-ray Review: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

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The original 2014 Neighbors was consistently funny and occasionally had a point or two to make amidst all the bawdy, low-brow jokes. Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), proud new parents, have their world shaken when the house-next-door becomes inhabited by a rowdy fraternity. They initially think they're hip enough to hang with this crew, led by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), but they soon come to terms with a difficult reality: they're not young anymore and they might as well be these college kids' parents. A war between the generations ensues. Though it devolved into typical teen comedy hi-jinks with an overblown finale, that first film (written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien) was a solid laugh-generator that earned its box office hit status.

The sequel, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Universal), hit theaters early in 2016's summer movie season and struggled to strike the same chord with audiences. Five screenwriters (the original two, joined by director Nicholas Stoller and producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen) also struggled to find a core to their story. In other words, the whole gang is back but there's not much point to this reunion. It's not devoid of laughs (in fact, there are quite a few), the whole affair just lacks a sense of purpose. 
rsz_neighbors_2_a.jpg There's also a highly confused "girl power" message buried somewhere in the story of a sorority that takes up residence next to Mac and Kelly. Led by Shelby (Chloƫ Grace Moretz), Phi Lamda aims to party just as hard as the boys do, despite discriminatory rules that dictate that sororities don't have the same rights to do so. Okay, so that's a double standard but is getting utterly trashed on booze and weed really a worthy goal (for any gender) to aspire to?

The biggest problem with Sorority Rising is that Mac and Kelly are basically supporting characters in their own story. With another child on the way, they're trying to sell their house when the sorority girls move in. Teddy, who you may remember struck a truce with Mac and Kelly, is now inexplicably their enemy once again. You may also remember that Teddy and Pete were afforded actual character arcs last time, with Pete desiring to break away from the frat house nonsense and focus on academics. Their development as characters seems to have been abandoned. Teddy, with nothing better to do with his time, decides to mentor the young college girls in the ways of partying (and terrorizing the neighbors). Pete, meanwhile, has come out of the closet and and is getting married, a subplot with little purpose. 

rsz_neighbors_2_c.jpg Sorority Rising feels like it had too many cooks in its kitchen. There's a slapdash, anything-goes feel that results in mostly scattershot laughs. In the end, it feels quite unnecessary. But what might've felt like a huge letdown at movie theater ticket prices is more satisfying as a home video experience. Rogen and Byrne still make an amusingly exasperated couple. It's too bad Selena Gomez, as president of Phi Lamda, was tossed in with absolutely nothing to do.

Universal's Blu-ray, in addition to flawless 1080p visuals and a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, offers a bunch of special features. There's a commentary with director Nicholas Stoller and producer James Weaver. A generous 25 minutes of deleted scenes are included, along with requisite "Gag Reel" and "Line-O-Rama" segments. There are also four short featurettes that take a glossy look at different aspects of the production. The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a standard DVD and Digital HD copy.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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