A sequel has to balance the line between continuing what people loved about its predecessor and providing something new to as not to appear to be a simple redoing of the saem formula.  Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising makes some superficial changes -- last time it was a fraternity next door, now it's a sorority! -- but settles for some borderline slapstick comedy.

Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) seem to be growing up.  With their daughter growing and Kelly pregnant, they've sold their home and used the money to buy a new home in the suburbs.  However, their home sale is in escrow, meaning the buyers have 30 days to back out if they don't like anything about the house -- or its neighbors.
So of course there's a problem.  College freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) is disappointed that sororities don't throw parties or allow weed to be smoked; she's also less than thrilled that fraternity parties are at best sexist and at worst rape-y.  So with friends Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), Shelby decided to create Kappa Nu, a sorority where women can be themselves and party like they want.  And of course, Shelby (somehow) gets the house next to the Radners for her sorority.  Worse, Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), the fraternity nemesis from the last movie, is stuck in the past and decides to help Kappa Nu make money to pay the rent and to throw epic parties -- until they kick him out, at which point he switches sides.

None of this makes any sense -- Who'd sell a house to a college freshman with no money or job?  How do a bunch of middle-aged folks infiltrate a college tailgate party, including someone dressed as a clown? Why would anyone think they could bribe someone with pocket change? -- but Neighbors 2 doesn't care about or bother with any of that.  While the movie theoretically concerns itself with sexism (sororities aren't allowed to do what fraternities are) and ageism (Zac Efron is lumped in with the "old people"), it's really concerned with cheap laughs.  There's drug humor, physical comedy, gross-out humor (a running joke about the Radners' daughter playing with mommy's dildo is one of the tamer jokes), reverse racism, Jewish jokes, both sides sabotaging the other, a gay wedding, and out-of-nowhere sentimentality and a feel-good ending,

To their credit, the cast does manage to get a decent amount of humor out of the situations so broadly laid out here.  Seth Rogen is his usual stoner self, Zac Efron spoofs himself as a loser who refuses to grow up, and Chloe Grace Moretz  balances being an independent girl on her own for the first time with being the scary menace next door.  But the movie is borderline sketch comedy, which tends to fall apart when you stop to think about it.  (Cameos by Selena Gomez, Kelsey Grammer, and Lisa Kudrow are pretty much unnecessary.)   Neighbors 2 can be funny, but it's also consistently stupid.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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