When we last saw thirty-something new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) they had just called a truce in a Hatfield and McCoy’s style feud with their unruly Delta Psi frat boy neighbours led by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco).
Time has moved on.
Mac and Kelly have happily figured out how to balance fun and parenthood but Teddy is struggling to find his place. The final straw? He realizes he is the oldest Abercrombie & Fitch employee by six years. He finds purpose when he joins forces with party animal and grrrl power advocate Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) who brings him back to the scene of his greatest work—right next door to Mac and Kelly—to liven things up at her newly formed Kappa Nu sorority. “I have finally found something I am good at,” says Teddy.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so the old saying goes. In the case of “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” the title and party animal gender has changed but everything else is pretty much identical to the first movie. There are sex toy jokes, loud parties, elaborate plans to put an end to the partying and even an air bag gag or two. The familiar elements raise a laugh or two and even made me slap my knee a couple of times, but the thing that makes “Neighbors 2” worth a look isn’t Efron’s abs, which are on ample display, but the relationships between the main cast.
Rogen and Byrne have the easy, kooky camaraderie of a long time couple. Individually they are funny, but together they radiate humour and warmth, even when they’re talking about being horrible parents to their two-year-old child.
That likeability trickles down to the supporting cast. Selby, Teddy, Ike (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo) may do ill-advised things—Selby comes just this side of kidnapping and Ike gets REALLY high at a party—but they aren’t terrible people. Just folks placed in extraordinary situations. When it comes right down to it they all do more or less the right thing. That kind-and-gentle approach is a change from Rogen’s earlier shock-and-awe films but doesn’t diminish the laughs.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” isn’t quite as funny as the first time, but it’s genial just as good neighbours should be.