Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz. Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.
Late in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Seth Rogen’s Mac Radner accepts a bucket of money and yells, “We won! F*ck you!”—which pretty much sums up the attitude of this vacant, needless sequel. The barely passable 2014 original made an unholy $270 million worldwide, from an $18 million budget. But this sequel looks as if everyone involved accepted a large paycheck, and then came up with a movie that seems expelled from some collective digestive tract. The pace is frantic and flailing, as if the filmmakers were waving their arms, trying to distract viewers from thinking about the money and time they’ve wasted.
Chloë Grace Moretz enters the story as a college freshman who forms a sorority so she can party with her new pals (Kiersey Clemons and Beanie Feldstein). Former frat boy Zac Efron joins forces with hapless, idiotic parents Rogen and Rose Byrne to stop them. The movie tosses around a half-hearted message about female empowerment, but also ogles bikini babes and includes a recurring (oh, does it recur) joke about a female toddler with a vibrator. Not one character is smart or even lifelike, though at least Efron—with his vacant eyes and absent personality—is a believable moron (he doesn’t know that boiling water is hot). It’s sometimes satisfying, and gratifying, to see the characters occasionally pummeled and slammed in lifeless slapstick gags, but there’s not one genuine laugh, giggle or smile to be had among these Neighbors.