Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising


Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz

Rated R for Crude Sexual Content including Brief Graphic Nudity, Language Throughout, Drug Use and Teen Partying

Seth Rogen should be arrested.

"Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" is a crime.  It is a crime against comedy.  It is a crime against all the joys and wonders of film that I hold dear.  It is a crime against humanity in general.

"Neighbors," released two years ago, was a funny concept that was ruined by Seth Rogen's ego and complete ineptitude at screenwriting, producing and improvisation.  Although I laughed a few times, my overall impression was one of disgust and bitter hatred.  When they came out with a sequel, I groaned, but held fast to the hope  that it couldn't possibly be worse than the original.  Boy was I in for a surprise.  One that would be about as pleasant as being dragged through raw sewage.

Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) Radner are moving up in the world.  They're selling their house that they fought over with Teddy (Efron) and his frat because they've realized that having a job and a kid means growing up.  There's trouble on two fronts: Kelly is pregnant again (which she discovers when puking on Mac during sex...believe me, that he is still excited while covered in vomit is only a taste of how unpleasant the rest of the film is) and their house is in escrow.  Meaning, if the new buyers get one bad feeling about it, they can pull out of the deal, leaving the cash-strapped couple completely screwed.  Still, it's only for 30 days.  That's when a group of girls, led by the pot head rebel Shelby (Moretz), moves in to the house next door...with Teddy advising them on how to start a sorority.  An attempt to hold off on the partying for 30 days falls on deaf ears, and eventually it leads to all out war.  That is, until Shelby kicks Teddy out, at which point he switches sides.

I'm not bashing the movie for its concept, since it could have been a brilliant black comedy.  Nor am I bashing it for being rude, crude and gross, since a movie like this those qualities are mandatory.  What I will criticize it for is being dull, cataclysmically unfunny and thoroughly hateful to the human race.  If, by some reason, this film is beamed out in space and aliens caught wind of it, they'd destroy the planet not out of malice but an attempt at decency.  And considering how wretched the people populating this film are, it would be hard to blame them.

I feel bad for Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and Chloe Grace Moretz.  Three talented actors are stuck in a cesspool that no one, no matter how desperate, should be stuck in.  Either they were contractually obligated to appear in this, or Seth Rogen and Nicholas Stoller have some very damaging picutres of them.  If it's the latter, they would have to implicate the actors in activities that would warrant the death penalty.  Nothing less would excuse them from appearing in this piece of shit.

It's a common cliché that actors have big heads.  There have been many instances where movie stars have made unreasonable demands behind the scenes, such as telling the director how to shoot the scene, locking him out of the editing room, or completely taking control of the project entirely.  An example of this would be Edward Norton's infamous meddling of "American History X."  While few would argue that Norton's ego damaged the film very much, the same cannot be said of Rogen.  Rogen thinks that simply shooting his mouth off is in itself hilarious.  At one point, he spends the better part of two minutes congratulating Teddy for helping them steal a whole bunch of weed from the sorority (don't ask....please?).  Then, in an example of the so-called "awkward humor" that has become all the rage these days, asks Teddy what he wants to do with the rest of his life.  Then they spend another minute awkwardly dancing around what has long since been made obvious from the events in the first film: Teddy is in a state of arrested development and doesn't know what he wants to do with himself.  To say that this is humorous is just plain demented.

Seth Rogen's appeal lies in three areas: one, his everyman appearance.  He's not much to look at, which makes him easy to relate to for guys not named Brad Pitt circa 1995.  The second is that he demonstrates that it's okay to be a pot-smoking 30-something with no goals or dreams other than partying and sleeping around.  I get that too.  Growing up is scary and being a self-controlled adult seems scary and dull.  The last part is his figuring out how to make male bonding seem cool.  This part disgusts me.  First, every time this happens, it's so immature and stupid that it becomes repulsive (straight guys, is it really that awkward to give your best bro a hug?) and he dances around it forever.  Not only is the joke tired, homophobic and not the least bit funny to anyone born after 1950, it goes on for far too long.

On top of that, the film is completely misogynist.  Oh sure, it makes a pass for gender equality (repeatedly, I might add), but considering that the goal is to be able to act like hooligans unimpeded and smoke untold quantities of weed, that's not a strike for women's rights in my book.  Not that the guys fare any better.  They're portrayed as drunken boors who make fun of rape (at the frat party, there are stripper poles for the girls to try out and a neon sign that says "NO MEANS YES."  Yes, this is what spurns the main trio of girls to form their own sorority, but that's because the Greek Council says that only frats can throw parties.  Not exactly a good justification), police brutality and the Holocaust.  I'm not saying that these things can't be funny ("Family Guy" has made brilliant jokes out of all three. Multiple times.), but here they're just offensive.  And there isn't a single character in this film with an IQ above their shoe size.  Oh, and Rogen tries to get LGBT cred by making Teddy's right-hand man Pete (Dave Franco) gay, but that Teddy feels betrayed that he was told of this last (after being asked to move out) makes this just as offensive and repulsive as everything else.

To my horror, the film has made over $90 million against a $35 million budget.  That means that we are going to get another sequel of Rogen mugging the camera, seeming without end (this film has as many endings as "The Lord of the Rings") and getting paid for it.  The thought of that, especially considering that it comes at the cost of another potentially more interesting, insightful and entertaining film, is enough to make me never want to see another movie again.

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