Review – A Bore of a Sor (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising)

Having a fraternity house open up next door to you is bad. Having a sorority house open up next door to you is worse! A sequel to 2014’s Neighbors, Seth Rogan and Rose Bryne return as the harried homeowners, along with Zac Efron as their former frat house menace.

In what is, essentially, a pale comparison and copycat film to it’s hilarious original hit film, Rogan and Bryne are back as “old guys” Mac and Kelly Radner, who now have an adorable 3-year-old daughter, with another one the way. Their house is in a 30-day escrow (with another home already purchased), but they’ve hit a major snag. The empty ex-frat house next door has just been bought by a trio of college girls who want to open their own party sorority house.

Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) can’t stand that sororities are forbidden to throw parties, so she is determined to end that tradition with the help of her two Kappa Nu sisters; always happy Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and crazy/rotund Nora (Beanie Feldstein–trying to be an American version of Rebel Wilson). Problem is, they’ve got to raise major bank to keep their house. That’s when Teddy Sears (Efron) shows up after being kicked out of his apartment. He offers the girls the frat-smarts of how to keep their house in the black with parties and pledge dues, much to the ire of Mac and Kelly. . . again!

So the war is on with The Girls vs The ‘old guys’ Next Door in an ever increasing game of “can you top this?”, while Mac and Kelly desperately try and hide the truth from the new buyers. Calling in Shelby’s father (Kelsey Grammer in a great cameo) fails, a bed-bug attack is only a minor inconvenience, and a talk with the college dean (Lisa Kudrow, another great cameo) doesn’t help. Soon the girls decide to sell weed at a major tailgate event to make money, prompting Teddy to switch sides and join Mac and Kelly, along with their friends Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo), to steal their weed and shut them down for good.

After more hijinks and set-backs, Shelby decides she must do the unthinkable: throw a huge Kappa Nu party and open it up to loathsome frat boys to make money, much to her other sisters dismay. But this only leads to anarchy within the sisterhood and a really dumb ending that has a truly epic deus ex machina conclusion that just leaves you shaking your head in disbelief.

A whopping five writers (!!!) are credited with the screenplay (Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg) and even THEY couldn’t save this occasionally funny movie. Besides the huge plot holes, it’s filled with F-bombs galore, gross-out jokes that include used tampons and dangling body parts, and blatant Universal Studios Despicable Me ‘minions’ in human form, trying oh-so hard to garnish laughs wherever it could. There were a few truly hilarious scenes that popped up here and there (you probably saw them in the movie trailer), but not enough to sustain the entire movie. A running gag with Kelly’s pink dildo as a toy for her little girl is one of the funniest.

Nicholas Stoller’s wishy-washy direction is all over the map here with either bad camera set-ups, alot of stedi-cam movements, and way too many amateur generic shots. He directed the original Neighbors with more vigor, so what happened here? Also, just for fun, check out the movie’s trailer: it contains alternate shot scenes not shown in the movie that should have been! Example: Nora going through Mac’s car windshield is treated as a quick aside in the movie, but lengthened (and looks SO much better) in the trailer!  Go figure!

Neighbors (1981)

In what has got to be one of the worst movies ever made with legendary comics John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, this truly awful film takes the classic ‘bad neighbor’ premise and spins it into an unfunny Twilight Zone-ish episode that tests the viewer to find any redeeming value in it.
I suppose it must have looked good on paper, this film (based Thomas Berger’s novel) was adapted by Larry Gelbart, the brilliant creative mind behind the TV series M*A*S*H. However, he went on record as saying his script was brutally savaged and rewritten, much to his disapproval. I can see why he was upset. The story is about Earl Keese (Belushi), a repressed married man who’s trapped in a living nightmare somewhere in a dead-end cul-de-sac street with one other house, deep in the woods. His easy-going wife, Enid (Kathryn Walker) is bored with life until the new neighbors show up.
Neighbors “Captain” Vic (Ackroyd–sporting a blond Conan O’Brien hair-do) is a lying, manipulating, smarmy braggart with a gorgeous nymphomaniac wife named Ramona (Cathy Moriarty), who’s always baiting Earl. Vic and Ramona immediately ingratiate themselves into the Keese’s lives with their open marriage, boisterous attitude, and living a very strange lifestyle, much to Enid’s pleasure, but NOT to Earl’s. Vic and Earl clash on practically everything from where to get food in town to borrowing Earl’s car. But when Elaine (Lauren-Marie Taylor), Earl’s college-aged daughter, comes home and Vic flirts with her, Earl goes nuts.
Earl tries his best to “one-up” his horrible neighbor, trying to prove that Vic is a liar, but everything he does backfires, ultimately making him look like an idiot. Through a very bizarre turn of events, Earl changes his mind and accepts Vic as his BFF (after nearly banging his wife!), but even after Vic and Ramona leave, his stagnant life is no better off than it was before, but his wife’s is. Enid’s off having an affair in town with an Indian she met at a Native American meeting!
Directed by John Avildsen (The Karate Kid, Rocky V) and a strained, humorless soundtrack that tried to make the movie ‘funnier’ by adding stupid sad trombone sounds, klaxon noises, and weird bird chirping at regular intervals, but it only added to this movie’s suckiness. This film has problems from day one: both Belushi and Ackroyd hated Avildsen and wanted him replaced with their buddy, director John Landis. They also switched their roles: Ackroyd wanted to play Vic and Belushi chose Earl, even though they weren’t cast that way originally. They also argued constantly about the script, with Ackroyd (a screenwriter himself) “fixing” the script as the movie progressed.
This was not a happy set and you can tell the actors were visibly NOT having a good time on screen. Sadly, if you watch Belushi’s performance, you can see he’s not up to his usual performance level. That’s because this was his last movie made just before he died of a drug overdose. He was straining to get this picture over and done with, as his addiction had peaked.

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