"Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" starts with Rose Byrne puking in Seth Rogen's face, and it's all downhill from there.
The opening scene is a sign of what's to come in the rest of the movie. The cinematic equivalent of word vomit, the film hurls out every weird and gross concept it can conjure, without a care of relevance, logic or comedy. You'll wince, you'll cringe, and you'll even laugh a few times, but you'll walk away ashamed and holding your nose.
The original "Neighbors," which pitted Rogen and Byrne as a pre-middle age suburbanite couple who engaged the frat house next door in a war of escalating sabotage, was a free-spirited joy. The sequel tries to recapture the magic by forcing its absurdity, and the strained effort yields diminishing returns. Rogen, a comedic ace who can thrive with tepid material, gives the movie all the watchability it has.
This time around, Rogen and Byrne are out to sell their house to move into their dream home, but their plans are scuttled when an upstart sorority moves in to the old frat house, threatening to scare off a potential buyer. Efron, who played the couple's bro-nemesis in the first film, is back to help the sorority (led by Chloe Grace-Moretz) to start up a new prank war. Why? Just because.
Allegiances shift, lighthearted neighborly passive aggression ramps up to felony assault and grand theft, and logic is strained well past Wile E. Coyote-Roadrunner territory.
Although "Neighbors 2" is objectively horrible, it does manage to crank out some decent laughs. Examples of horrible parenting by Rogen and Byrne are usually amusing, especially a recurring gag in which their toddler daughter looking for play things in mommy's private drawer.
Efron is an awkward fit, especially when he eye-rollingly buddies up with Rogen, but plays against his natural cool for some winning comeuppances. Byrne is game to do whatever, whether the script calls for her to puke, dress up in a cheerleader outfit or demean herself by being made up old and frumpy in contrast to her nubile enemies.
The movie is a sad waste of time in theaters, but is worth exactly the $1.50 you might spend renting it on Redbox months from now. As bad as it is, it is sure to be way better than "Neighbors 3."
RATING: 2 stars out of 4
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