Confession time: I didn’t see the original Neighbors until five days ago. I wasn’t specifically avoiding it. I just never got around to it. But upon seeing the trailers for Neighbors 2, which I found fantastic, I made an effort to catch the first one before tonight. I didn’t regret it. I knew that Seth Rogen was funny and that Zac Efron has a way of being funny, as well. I wasn’t prepared for how funny Rose Byrne could be, however.
So, I was pleased with the cast of the original and I’m also a self-professed Chloe Grace Moretz fan, ever since she stole the show in Kick-Ass. If she can land some artsy prestige roles, she has serious awards potential. I was looking forward to seeing her try her hand at a full-on comedy.
Sorority Rising is a fun time at the movies. I appreciate that, like the first one, it features various styles of comedy. There’s slapstick humor, gross-out humor, and more subtle, character-driven humor delivered (perfectly delivered, as a matter of fact, thanks once again to the brilliant cast) through the dialogue. So, if you’re looking for a lighthearted (though very adult) romp to take your mind off of your troubles, you should find something here to enjoy, regardless of your tastes in humor.
Speaking for myself, while I lean towards the more subtle laughs that aren’t about jokes but rather about situations and dialogue, everything worked for me. I laughed at that stuff, but I enjoyed the other stuff, too. Gross-out humor rarely clicks for me but what little there is in Neighbors 2 is bolstered by the more subtle reactions of the characters who witness it all. Nothing is too over-the-top and the film benefits from that. The gags and lines are a little outlandish, but the viewer can picture these things occurring in real life, under the perfect storm of circumstances. So, somehow, the film evokes a funny-’cause-it’s-true vibe, even though none of it is actually true. Nicely done.
What impressed me most, however, was how the film manages to deliver all of this crude, R-rated comedy without being disparaging to or denigrating . . . well . . . anybody, really. One would think that an R-rated comedy about a sorority whose marketing heavily features dozens of college girls parading around in bikinis while being sprayed by a water hose might not be concerned about the portrayal of women but that couldn’t be further from the truth. That entire scene is in the marketing and the context of it works perfectly within the film and would only offend those who refuse to see it for what it really is. The film, in reality, is about women being strong, respected, and independent. It was nice to see.
In addition to all of that, there are jokes referencing different religions, ethnicities, classes, and so on but the jokes are always at the expense of the characters, not whichever group is being referenced. It’s clear that much thought and consideration has been put into the presentation of the film and towards anyone who might potentially see it.
And I suggest you do just that. Without getting into details, I’ve had some tough things going on in my life, lately, but I forgot about it all while watching Sorority Rising and I’m thankful to the entire cast and crew for providing me with that escape. I will state that you might want to see the first one if you haven’t already as there are numerous references and callbacks to events from that film (a guy in front of me got so excited at the sight of an airbag that he enthusiastically kissed the girl next to him on the cheek). It’s not absolutely necessary, but having that knowledge will help you fully understand and appreciate a few more lines and happenings than you otherwise would. But, one way or another, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is an easy recommendation from me and is my favorite comedy of the year, so far.