Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (4 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (K. Walsh) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review  

Parents should note that Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [2016] (directed and cowritten by Nicholas Stoller along with Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O'Brien, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) is a typically rather hard-R amiable if definitely drugged-up slacker "Seth Rogan" film (with some added and probably for almost all Viewers increasingly tiresome "sex toy" humor...).  So Dear Readers, you should get the picture ... the R-rating is deserved, and I really can't imagine a circumstance why a Parent would want to take a preteen or even a 16 year old to see the film.  

That said, as typical of "Seth Rogan films," the movie is not entirely stupid.  It makes some interesting even legitimate points that would perhaps be hard to make as effectively without at last some of the "smiling / slacker haze." 

The film, a sequel, begins a few years after the original film Neighbors [2014] left-off.  In the original, mid-20s married / college educated couple, Mac and Kelly Radner (played by Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne respectively) expecting their first child, bought a house in what they expected to be a quiet somewhat upscale urban neighborhood (presumably "close to work" ...) only to find a rowdy fraternity led by Frat Bro' Forever "six pack" Teddy (played by Zach Efron) and his true if ever smarter / wiser BFF Pete (played by Dave Franco) was moving in next door.  Much over-the-top (if juvenile) hilarity involving the "über-cool" (frat) and the "wait, only a few years ago, we were quite 'cool' too" (the college graduated, married, expectant couple) ensued ... Among that which ensued was that frat brothers, including Pete, were graduating at the end of the first year of their "living as neighbors"_anyway_ ... so the problem "resolved itself" come the end of the film (graduation time).

At the beginning of the current (second) film, a few years down the road from the first, Mac and Kelly, expecting now their second child, had just successfully sold their house for a bigger one in the suburbs.   All was a go, 'cept, the house was now "in escrow."  Now WT... means "escrow"?  Still mid/late 20 something Mac and Kelly didn't fully appreciate it until the real estate agent, rolling her eyes explained to them ... again: The new buyers had 30 days to conduct inspections of the house and could still walk-away from their purchase of the house for (basically) _any reason_. 

Okay, it's something of a hassle but what could really go wrong...? ;-)  Well ... three incoming freshmen to said nearby college -- Shelby, Beth and Nora (played by Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons and Beanie Feldstein respectively) -- decide that they'd like to found an "off campus sorority" next door (in the old "off campus frat house" that had tormented Mac and Kelly in the first film). 

Now _why_ would the three young women want do do that (besides providing an excuse for the film's producers to create a sequel to the original film)?  Well, the three college freshmen simply found it incomprehensible that on campus sororities were _not_ allowed to hold parties.  The President of one of the on-campus sororities (played by Selena Gomez) tried to explain that "this was not a problem" as simply Frats held the parties to which the Sororities would be invited to.  But for the three (and actually to a lot of young women today) this was a problem:

(1) By holding the parties on their premises, Frats determined then what kind of parties they would be ... often very degrading to women ("Rapey" as one of the young women noted), and

(2) "Partying" need not be a particularly sexual (or sexualized) affair at all.  Indeed, one of the parties that these young women threw at their "off campus" sorority was basically a "karaoke rave-night" that yes, did involve some drugs (mostly pot and perhaps some ecstasy) but really did not involve guys or even sex of any kind at all -- just mostly happy (and free) young women singing (mostly off key) their favorite songs while the other girls just bouncing and dancing to their singing in support... It all looked like a lot of fun ;-), but something that a lot of guys would not necessarily want to attend ;-). 

So this is the first (and main point) that this film made, and perhaps more credibly than a more proper (more "Oscar worthy" ... ;-) film could not.

The other point involved a subplot involving "ever Frat boy" / "six pack" Teddy and his "liked / loved college" but was (long) moving-on BFF Paul ... Paul turns out to be gay and early in the film gets engaged (to another man).  Then Paul and his fiance ask Teddy to move-out of their flat.  What's poor Teddy to do?  Well he first serves as "a consultant" to the three young women as to how to set-up their new "partying" / off campus sorority.  But in the end, he spends some time sleeping on the floor of Mac and Kelly's kids' bedroom (he had told Paul and his fiance) that he _didn't need a lot of space_ ;-) ;-)  Sigh ...

Eventually Paul and Teddy do make up (as friends, as they were always) and Paul even asks Teddy to be his best man.  Well ... at the wedding Paul gets nervous and Teddy, in the role of the best man tries to calm him down / focus him telling him that [his fiance] is "[Paul's] best friend, his confident, who's gonna be with him through thick and thin, and always have is back ..." and at the end of Teddy's speech, Paul asks: 'You weren't talking about my fiance were you?" "No I wasn't" was Teddy's reply ;-), the point being IMHO ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING: While _never_ sexual, Paul's / Teddy's relationship was truly one of Best Friends Forever.  What then in the time of gay marriage to make of Teddy's speech?   We've heard that speech being given countless times by Best Men / Maids of Honor to their best friends getting married ... to someone of the opposite sex.  Why does it sound _so surprisingly weird_ in the context of a gay marriage?   Is the only (if significant) difference between a BFF relationship and a gay relationship the sex?  Is marriage itself, straight or gay, ultimately "just about the sex"?

Yes, this is a "dumb movie," but what an interesting / discussion provoking question it raises ;-)

In the Catholic Church, marriage is about commitment to each other, having / raising kids together (providing a stable home to do so). 

The current film asks some interesting questions about relationships in general -- those involving marriage as well as friendship.  And I found this quite interesting. 

My question would be to the film makers, was it film's crudity really necessary though to raise these question, or even to raise them with a smile?  Obviously, I don't believe that the film needed to be nearly as crude to make its point (or even again to make it with a smile).

Nevertheless, _not entirely_ a bad job ;-)

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