A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is, like the first Neighbors, a hard-R comedy featuring tons of crass jokes, strong language, and almost non-stop underage substance use (mostly marijuana and beer) -- this time with even younger central characters (the sorority is started by first-year students). Once again starring Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, and Rose Byrne, this sorority-themed sequel nominally offers a girl-empowerment theme ... for the young women's right to party hard (albeit without sexually aggressive fraternity guys to bother them). Expect nonstop swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and much more), drinking, drug use, and sex talk, with a few played-for-humor scenes of marital (and mid-pregnancy) sex thrown in, as well as one provocative strip dance by Efron's in which he goes full monty (but the camera shot is from behind, so only fake testicles are visible). It's not exactly Norma Rae or A League of Their Own, but the movie does bring up compelling issues about the double standards in Greek life, how girls deserve to have fun without feeling unsafe or harassed, and why the idea of "girls behaving badly" upsets people more than "boys will be boys."
- Parents say
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What's the story?
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING opens a couple of years after the original, with Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner finding out they're expecting baby number two and putting their house on the market. All they have to do is wait out the 30-day escrow for the new owners to close. Unfortunately, the eight-bedroom house next door is about to be rented by a group of first-year students who start their own sorority, Kappa Nu, so they can throw their own parties without feeling like a fraternity bro is just waiting to sexually assault them. Led by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein, Jonah Hill's lookalike younger sister), the Kappa Nus cause a lot of chaos for the Radners, especially since their mentor is none other than Teddy (Zac Efron), who has returned to guide the sorority in the ways of profitable partying. But when the sisters get rid of "Old Person" Teddy, he switches sides and decides to help his former adversaries stop the girls from ruining the sale of their house.
Is it any good?
Despite its socially aware jokes, this incredibly crass sequel isn't quite as memorable as the original, but the cast is undeniably having a grand time with their tried and true weed and sex humor. Efron once again shines as the hot-but-clueless-at-adulting Teddy, who realizes early on that the only thing he's really good at is planning a party. Thank goodness the screenwriters chose to make him "old" enough for the sorority girls to appreciate for his attractiveness without wanting to get with him, because that would've been all sorts of wrong in a comedy that purports to be about female empowerment. Moretz, Clemons, and Feldstein are all likable enough misfits who eschew the established sororities for their own brand of fun -- a haven for 18-year-old young women to dress as they are (hoodies and pajama pants!) and party without any leering guys trying to have sex with them.
In essence, this is all a somewhat positive message -- at least, the part about being anti-sexual violence. But NEIGHBORS 2 ultimately seems to be more about a "right to party" than a right to not be harassed by young, drunk men. And while parents may be horrified at the sorority girls' illegal underage antics, they'll probably laugh at the Radners as they attempt to parent their strong-willed toddler who prefers to play with her mother's sex toy (which she dresses up like a princess) rather than listen to her mom and dad. The Radners good-humored parenting fails are relatable (except maybe the sex-toy thing) and silly, as is their inability to understand the complexities of the term "escrow." But it's Teddy's need for a sense of home, friendship, and value that gives this movie a heart under all the crude jokes. Teddy knows he's beautiful, but as his best friends get engaged or pursue their careers, he's every bit as lost and overwhelmed as the sorority sisters. Teddy's newly reconciled friendship with the Radners is surprisingly sweet, and it's clear how much odd-couple chemistry Efron and Rogen share, like their pals Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street.
Talk to your kids about ...
Are the movie's female empowerment themes positive? The Kappa Nus want to have parties for themselves, not to be popular with fraternity guys, but their feminist stance is all about partying. What message does this send girls who see the movie?
Many of the sequel's characters are younger (first-year students) than those of the previous movie. Is the risky behavior shown in the movie more dangerous because the girls are clearly underage? How about the fact that they're girls rather than boys? Is a gender-based double-standard fair?
What are the movie's messages about generational divides and how the difference between "young" and "old" can be just a few years? Is it believable when/how the girls use social media (Snapchat, YouTube, texting) to communicate? How can adults keep up with the media teens are using?
- In theaters: May 20, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: September 20, 2016
- Cast: Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Chloe Grace Moretz
- Director: Nicholas Stoller
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content including brief graphic nudity, language throughout, drug use and teen partying
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.