Movie Review: “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

Starring
Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Ike Barinholtz
Director
Nicholas Stoller

The 2014 film “Neighbors” cost $18 million to make and brought in $270 million worldwide. That is a spectacular, “Saw”-like return on investment, so it makes sense that the studio would be interested in making a sequel. There’s just one teensy little problem: there was nothing about “Neighbors” that lends itself well to a sequel. (Also, no one appears to have been asking for a sequel, but that is apparently beside the point.) It’s a film where the main characters each win a battle, but lose what’s left of their dignity. No bonds are forged, and the attempt at a happy ending drips with sadness. One of the first film’s good points was that they didn’t seem concerned about tomorrow because they were having too much fun today. Then tomorrow came, panic settled in, and for God knows what reason, the decision to not make a second film wasn’t considered. This is a mistake.

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” isn’t even remotely tethered to reality. If this took place in the real world, at least two people would be dead and one would be in traction. It requires “Horrible Bosses 2” logic in order to work, which dictates that if you’ve been badly burned in your personal or professional life, you will learn absolutely nothing from the experience and make the same mistake again. “Horrible Bosses 2,” for the record, was another movie that no one asked for, and it made half as much as the original. Universal should prepare themselves for a similar drop-off.

Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, respectively), now with a two-year-old and another baby on the way, have decided to sell their house and move to the suburbs. They have a family who wants to buy, and the house is put in escrow. The Radners do not understand that the sale is not final until their realtor spells it out for them for the sake of the plot (and the audience); the buyers have 30 days to back out of the deal for any reason. When Mac and Kelly see that a group of rebel girls wants to start a new party-friendly sorority in the abandoned house next door (the house previously owned by the Delta Psi Betas from the first film), they ask the girls to tone it down until the sale goes through. The girls are already annoyed that sororities are not allowed to throw parties, but fraternities are. They are not receptive to this request.

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Movie Review: “Kick-Ass 2″

Starring
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, Morris Chestnut, Donald Faison
Director
Jeff Wadlow

The superhero movie was given the punk-rock treatment in Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass,” an irreverent satire of the genre that scored with critics and audiences alike. But while the film was a mild success commercially, the chances of a sequel seemed pretty unlikely, especially for anyone who read the darker and more sadistic second volume of Mark Millar’s popular comic book series, which is borderline distasteful in its attempts to raise the stakes. Thankfully, director Jeff Wadlow (replacing Vaughn) tones down many of those more questionable moments by mining them for laughs instead of shock value, and it works for the most part, creating a sequel that, although it lacks the provocative originality of its predecessor, maintains the same sense of fun and over-the-top absurdity that made the first “Kick-Ass” such a blast.

Two years have passed since Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl took down mob boss Frank D’Amico, and in that time, hundreds of new superheroes have begun to pop up across the country. Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) continues to wage Big Daddy’s war against crime, but when her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut) makes her promise to stop playing vigilante and live a normal childhood as Mindy Macready, Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is left without a partner. As Mindy endures a “Mean Girls”-like nightmare at high school, Kick-Ass joins a superhero team called Justice Forever, led by a former mob enforcer turned born-again Christian named Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) plots his revenge against Kick-Ass for killing his dad, rebranding himself as the world’s first-ever supervillain, The Motherfucker, and assembling an army of criminals and crazy devotees to wreak havoc on the city, which ultimately forces Mindy out of early retirement.

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