I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
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.