The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - GO SEE -

Two years ago, “Neigh­bors” writ­ers An­drew Jay Co­hen and Bren­dan O’brien, along with di­rec­tor Nicholas Stoller, rein­vented the clas­sic col­lege party movie by pit­ting the frat guys against the young par­ents next door. It was a raunchy but sweet ru­mi­na­tion on get­ting older and grow­ing out of party mode, a re­fresh­ing take on the col­lege movie for­mula.

With “Neigh­bors 2: Soror­ity Ris­ing,” they’ve flipped the script, cre­at­ing a fem­i­nist party clas­sic that’s com­pletely cur­rent and doesn’t skimp on any of the wild hu­mor. It’s also even bet­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor.

Star­ring Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Cle­mons and Beanie Feld­stein as the fresh­man found­ing mem­bers of Kappa Nu, the film takes on a real-world is­sue that is a le­git­i­mate prob­lem on col­lege cam­puses. Greek soror­ity houses aren’t al­lowed to host par­ties with al­co­hol, so the ma­jor­ity of col­lege par­ties take place in the “boys rule” at­mos­phere of fra­ter­ni­ties, of­ten preda­tory en­vi­ron­ments with themes that are usu­ally sex­ist and de­signed to get girls into skimpy out­fits.

The pic­ture-per­fect soror­i­ties of flower crowns and sun­dresses also aren’t the right fit for Shelby (Moretz), Beth (Cle­mons) and Nora (Feld­stein). This is a trio of girls who want to party on their own turf and by their own rules. So they find their own house, for­merly the Delta Psi house next door to 30-some­thing par­ents Mac (Seth Ro­gen) and Kelly (Rose Bryne). HHHH

The cou­ple are cur­rently at­tempt­ing to sell the prop­erty, and just need to get through 30 days of es­crow be­fore the new buy­ers (Abbi Ja­cob­son and Sam Richardson, steal­ing the show) move in and have to deal with the Greeks. How do they con­front the wild new soror­ity next door? A prank war, of course. If it worked against Zac Efron and the Delta Psis, how bad can some teenage girls be?

Take “An­i­mal House” or “Re­venge of the Nerds,” and turn the gen­der roles in­side out, and you’ll have “Neigh­bors 2.” In fact, elim­i­nate al­most all of the guys. The girls have no real in­ter­est in th­ese slovenly dudes. Efron as Teddy, the for­mer frat guy who can’t let go of his col­lege lifestyle, is sim­ply there to be ob­jec­ti­fied, a role he em­braces by per­form­ing a “Magic Mike”-style dance num­ber while oiled up in bar­be­cue grease. They re­fer to him as “Hot Guy.”

The film de­rives a lot of hu­mor from em­brac­ing and also com­pli­cat­ing stereo­types. Th­ese girls are at once ab­sorbed in their phones, but also phys­i­cally pow­er­ful. They wage war through tex­ting, and al­ways re­fer to their neigh­bors as “the old peo­ple.” Those “old peo­ple,” Kelly and Mac, ques­tion their own par­ent­ing skills, but they’ve em­braced the role of par­ent­hood, vow­ing to do what par­ents do best: stop young peo­ple from hav­ing fun. Their re­al­iza­tion that their tod­dler daugh­ter will one day grow up to be a petu­lant teen leads to a touch­ing mo­ment that gets at the bit­ter­sweet na­ture of par­ent­hood.

Isn’t it time that the ladies got their own rol­lick­ing, foul-mouthed, Thc-soaked party movie? The fact that it con­tains a pro­foundly pro­gres­sive mes­sage about the dif­fi­cul­ties of buck­ing an in­her­ently sex­ist sys­tem helps its in­stant-clas­sic sta­tus. With high school grad­u­a­tion sea­son upon us, “Neigh­bors 2: Soror­ity Ris­ing,” should be re­quired view­ing for any­one ma­tric­u­lat­ing into col­lege next year. Con­grats, grads: Good luck, have fun and re­mem­ber — never drink the punch.


Carla Gallo (from left), Ike Bar­in­holtz, Zac Efron, Seth Ro­gen and Rose Byrne star in “neigh­bors 2: Soror­ity Ris­ing,” open­ing to­day.

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