Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING | 92 min | R
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ike Barinholtz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Carla Gallo, Dave Franco and Selena Gomez
Lacks the type of humor that made the original a hit
Following the unprecedented success of 2014’s NEIGHBORS, Universal Pictures has brought us back to check in on Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) to see how their now-quiet household has been since they successfully gave the boot to the frat boys of Delta Psi Beta.
Well, as luck would have it, things are not too good. There’s a new situation brewing, and this time it’s the ladies of Kappa Nu raising cane.
Chloë Grace Moretz (THE FIFTH WAVE), Kiersey Clemons (DOPE) and Beanie Feldstein (FAN GIRL) play college freshman who are eager to make a name for themselves, but discover that the Greek Life is built upon sexism, as sororities are not allowed to throw parties of their own on campus.
So what do they do?
They create their own sorority (in the same house that used to be Delta Psi Beta’s), with an agenda that’s more than merely getting trashed and dressing for the male gaze. They’re partying to show defiance and prove their worth among the college community.
Making a near carbon copy of the original isn’t always the world idea in the world. (Hey, it worked out for THE FORCE AWAKENS, but that’s a whole other ballgame.) What matters is the creativity in the humor, both remixed and new. NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING isn’t quite as appalling as THE HANGOVER PART II, but it’s hardly a sequel to emulate.
The only thing holding SORORITY RISING from completely following in the footsteps of THE HANGOVER franchise is the gender swap, which shakes up the formula enough to still keep it carbonated. The idea opens up the field for the ladies to dish out and take over the bro-centric domination of the original NEIGHBORS.
But where this film fails to warrant its existence is in the comedy. It’s quite clear these guys are scraping the bottom of the barrel. While they point this sequel in a promising direction, the follow-through is nowhere to be found. Instead, they push the envelope too far with gross-out humor, such as the girls throwing used tampons at the Radner’s house, man-junk dangling out of shorts, and a gag about pregnancy that’s too foul to even mention.
There are a few chuckles to be had in SORORITY RISING, primarily from Zac Efron, who reprises his role as Teddy Sanders. Unfortunately, the film’s more accomplished qualities (gags about being a bad parent) are held back by its tasteless tricks.
The Good Book tells us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” However, it says nothing about loving NEIGHBORS 2, and this lackluster sequel exhibits this on full display.
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING opens nationwide on Friday.