Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)

This direct sequel to the hilarious 2014 original is more of the same, in the best possible way. Returning stars Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and Dave Franco (not to mention Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo) slip back into their roles with ease, while a batch of newcomers fit in just as effectively. Like most great comedy sequels, it basically replicates the formula of the first while augmenting the stakes, so this round finds Rogen and Byrne dueling with an alternative sorority next door, and it works just as well as the first time around. It’s fun to see the girls next door get in on the comedy action as much as their male counterparts did the first time around, and the movie walks a fine line between incorporating a repudiation of institutionalized sexism within its narrative without lecturing anybody and risking alienating the audience in the process. Efron shows surprising growth as an actor here, able to convey his character’s confusion and sadness over the course of his post-university life without forgetting that his character serves as a comedic tool first, and it’s nice to see him handle the potentially tricky arc he’s given here.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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