‘Neighbors 2’s’ is Funny, but Meaning is Debatable

Most of the time when a numeral follows the title of a reasonably successful raunchy frat-boy comedy, good things are not in store. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” breaks with this wisdom, continues the story from the first  neighbors movie in 2014, and actually has something to say.

The continuing story is that of 30-somethings Mac and Kelly Radner, and their young daughter, who become neighbors to a noisy fraternity, and with whom they become engaged in an over-the-top, but smart, war, to regain their quiet existence.  In this one, we get young college women, rightly upset about colleges allowing only fraternities to hold parties, moving in next door to start a new sorority. The Radners, who have a daughter, are approving of the idea in principal, but quickly change their minds when the sisters prove less than receptive to a request to not throw parties while the Radner’s house is in escrow and subject to inspection.

The ensuing war is genuinely funny, featuring the expected gross-out gags, hare-brained schemes and physical comedy.  Mac and Kelly, who are Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne, continue their quite competent portrayal of young adults transitioning into maturity. Teddy, Zac Efron, is back as the defeated antagonist from last time, first as consultant to the young sorority sisters, until they turn on him, marking a certain realization for him. Before that gets heavy, though, he ends up consulting  Mac and Kelly in their efforts to regain, again, their quiet lives…

“Neighbors 2’s” is funny—whether its message is elevating and empowering for women, or showing that they be just as degenerate as the young men can be debated. When in our parlance we stop referring the fraternity men and sorority girls, we’ll know.

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