Sunday, April 16, 2017

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Directed by Nicholas Stoller and screenplay by Stoller, Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen from characters created by Cohen and O’Brien, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is the sequel to the 2014 film in which a couple tries to sell their home only to deal with a newly-formed sorority, who had moved next door, where they seek the help from an old nemesis. The film isn’t just a study of adulthood but also sexism as it showcases what sororities could and couldn’t do. Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Selena Gomez, and Lisa Kudrow. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a witty yet wild film from Nicholas Stoller.

Set two years after the events of the first film, the film follows Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) who are expecting another child as they’re hoping to sell their house with their two-year old daughter Stella (Elise and Zoey Vargas) as they learn that a sorority has moved in next door which makes their attempts to sell the house very difficult. Even as they try to get rid of this sorority, they would get the help from their old nemesis Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) who is going through an existential crisis where he helps form the sorority only to be kicked out because he’s kind of an adult. It’s a film that explores not just a couple wanting to go into the next step as parents and adults but also question their own worth as parents where they not only have another child coming but also dealing with people younger than them. For Teddy, he’s someone that isn’t sure what to do with his life as his friends are already moving on into adulthood as his attempts to be part of the fraternity/sorority lifestyle was really him just stuck until he decides to help Mac and Kelly who would kind of be a parent for him.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore adulthood and the fear of becoming an adult but it also explores sexism as it relates to this newly-formed sorority in Kappa Nu. Led by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Kappa Nu’s mission is to have young women have fun and party while not giving into the pressure of being sexualized or treated as objects by men. Shelby, Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) would by the house that Teddy’s old fraternity used to live in as Teddy is shocked that sororities aren’t allowed to throw parties. While Mac and Kelly are sympathetic with Kappa Nu’s need to find their identity and independence, they do feel that the sorority has gone out of control as they do whatever to raise money for the rent and all sorts of shit. Even as Teddy tries to help Mac and Kelly in bringing them down once the feud escalates as it also shows how far these girls would go.

Nicholas Stoller’s direction is very straightforward where he doesn’t really try and do anything new except in showing what kind of hijinks women would do. Shot largely on location around Los Angeles and parts of Southern California, the film plays into the world of suburbia and college life where Mac and Kelly are eager to move into a new home and hopefully sell their home to a couple that is interested in buying it. Many of the compositions that Stoller create are straightforward as it also has some elements of style as it relates to the film’s tailgate party sequence and some of the themed-parties that Kappa Nu holds. Even as some of the parties prove to be very funny as well as other moments such as a little subplot in which one of Teddy’s old frat buddies reveal what he does for a living while there are also elements that will push the boundaries.

Notably a moment in which the girls would throw something at Mac and Teddy’s home that prove how disgusting women can be. Still, Stoller does find a way to balance the two storylines and multiple characters as well as provide a nice focus on the themes without the raunchy comedy overwhelming it. Especially as it play into the themes of growing pains in not just growing up to be a responsible adult but also trying to maintain that excitement of youth. Overall, Stoller creates a very funny and exciting comedy about a couple and a former fraternity president going to battle against a sorority.

Cinematographer Brandon Trost does excellent work with the cinematography as it is very straightforward for many of the scenes set in the day while it has a nice usage of neon lights for some of the parties at night. Editors Zene Baker, Peck Prior, and Michael A. Webber do fantastic work with the editing as it is stylized with some fast-cutting montages and other stylish cuts to play into the energy while not deviating too much to establish what is going on. Production designer Theresa Guleserian, with set decorator Ryan Watson and art directors Cate Bangs and Erika Toth, does brilliant work with the design of the homes of the Randers as well as Kappa Nu and the places they often go to. Costume designers Leesa Evans and Emily Gunshor does terrific work with the costumes from the casual clothes of the Randers as well as the more youthful and stylish clothes of Kappa Nu including a feminist-themed costume party.

Visual effects supervisor Mark LeDoux does some fine work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects for some key stunt scenes as well as a scene involving a major prank. Sound editor Michael Babcock does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the parties as well as some of the quieter moments in the film. The film’s music by Michael Andrews is wonderful as it’s very low-key in its mixture of jazz and electronics while much of the music soundtrack that is assembled by music supervisors Manish Raval and Tom Wolfe feature an array of music ranging from hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop from acts such as Kanye West, the Beastie Boys, Eric Carmen, Joan Jett, and many others.

The casting by Francine Maisler is remarkable as it feature some appearances and notable small roles from Kelsey Grammer as Shelby’s father, Brian Husky as Mac and Jimmy’s boss, Billy Eichner as the real estate agent who gives the Kappa Nu girls their house, Liz Cackowski as the Randers’ real estate agent, Sam Richardson and Abbi Jacobson as the couple that is interested in buying the Randers’ home, Hannibal Burress as a local policeman teaching Garfield how to be a cop, John Early as Pete’s boyfriend Darren, Elise and Zoey Vargas as Mac and Kelly’s daughter Stella, and Lisa Kudrow in a very funny one-scene appearance as Dean Gladstone who tell the Randers that she can’t do anything about Kappa Nu due to their independent affiliation.

Other noteworthy small roles and appearances include Selena Gomez as Phi Lambda president Madison, Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in their respective roles as former Delta Psi Beta brothers Garfield and Scoonie, Carla Mamet and Nora “Awkwafina” Lum in their respective roles as Kappa Nu members Maranda and Christine, and Dave Franco as former Delta Psi Beta vice-president Pete who reveals to Teddy that he’s gay. Kiersay Clemons and Beanie Feldstein are fantastic in their respective roles as Beth and Nora as Kappa Nu co-founders trying to create a sorority where they can fit in with Feldstein as the funnier of the two girls. Ike Barinowitz and Carla Gallo are superb in their respective roles as Jimmy and Paula Faldt-Bevins as the Randers’ remarried friends who are also expecting a child as they try to help them deal with Kappa Nu.

Chloe Grace Moretz is excellent as Shelby as a college freshman who is frustrated by the rules set for sororities as she decides to make her own sorority with friends so she can smoke pot, party, and let the women have fun while dealing with the Randers. Zac Efron is brilliant as Teddy Sanders as a former fraternity president who is coping with growing pains as he is unsure what to do where he helps Kappa Nu be formed only to get kicked out as he turns to the Randers for help where Efron is just very funny as someone scared of being an adult. Finally, there’s Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in amazing performances in their respective roles as Mac and Kelly Rander as the couple trying to sell their house with Rogen being the buffoon of sorts who helps Teddy in becoming an adult while Byrne is the straight-woman who would have some funny moments as she tries to do what is right for her daughter and growing family.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a marvelous film from Nicholas Stoller. Featuring a great cast and a funny take on themes such as sexism, adulthood, and growing up, it’s a film that manages to provide enough laughs while being very smart in what it wants to say. In the end, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a sensational film from Nicholas Stoller.

Nicholas Stoller Films: Forgetting Sarah Marshall - (Get Him to the Greek) – (The Five-Year Engagement) – Neighbors (2014 film) - (Storks (2016 film))

© thevoid99 2017


Dell said...

Glad you enjoyed this. I had a good time watching it. And I agree, Zac Efron is terrific in this role.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-It's a very funny film that I enjoyed watching. It's not as good as the first but I'm glad they managed to do some new things for the film. Zac Efron is awesome as I think he's got a damn good future ahead of him. He's got chops. He's got more charisma and skill in his pinkie than those other pretty-boy actors who are hot right now.

Often Off Topic said...

Great review, and I'm glad you enjoyed this - it got a lot of hate from what I remember. I absolutely loved the first so I knew I'd enjoy it, and although it wasn't quite as good as the original it was much better than a comedy sequel deserved to be :)

thevoid99 said...

@Allie Adkins-Agreed. I like the fact that the film took some risks with the sequel as well as provide some unique commentary on sexism.