Starring Seth Rogen. Rated 14A. Now playing.
Neighbors tickled us with Rose Byrne’s antics as a wife who could be just as immature (and therefore as funny) as her husband. They were a rare equal pair in gross-out romcomdom.
But this sequel tries so hard to be feminist that it winds up having no fun at all with its many female characters. The best parts are a Holocaust joke (seriously!) and Zac Efron’s return as a frat boy now struggling to grow up, which is both impressive and not exactly helping the cause of women. Then again, if star-producer Seth Rogen really wanted to help that cause, he might’ve tried adding a woman to his team of five writers—all male.
This time around, the plot hinges on a sorority moving beside Rogen and Byrne’s expanding family and causing trouble just as they’re selling their house. We spend too little time with Rogen and Byrne—they’re reduced to wondering if they’re good parents and trying to keep their daughter from playing with a dildo, which feels like territory Ben Stiller’s already mined—and too much on the nice, boring girls starting the sorority: a blonde, a black girl and an overweight funny one. Three guesses who’s the leader. Worse, that blonde is played by Chloë Grace Moretz, who has no natural funny bone and is thoroughly unconvincing as a bong-lover.
The bigger problem is that we’re supposed to sympathize with their drive to make a sorority that’s all about girl power. For every smart dig the film gets in at sexism, it digs its own grave as a comedy. We can’t pick a side when both sides have good intentions.