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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Blu-ray)
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // September 20, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted September 19, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

I know what you're thinking: Here comes yet another sequel/remake that tries to cash in on the success of the first film by repeating the exact same plot and structure, up to a point where the line between "sequel" and "remake" becomes nearly invisible. At least the plot of the first Neighbors, one of the funniest films of 2014, wasn't as far fetched as Home Alone, Die Hard, or The Hangover, enough to make us roll our eyes at the far from remote possibility of the same over-the-top premise repeating itself all over again.

Even then, the idea of the slightly irresponsible family of Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) having to deal with yet another loud university party house next door is stretching credibility a bit. One can imagine a writer's meeting that was supposed to take hours, yet after two minutes one of them yells out, "What if it's a sorority this time?", and everyone pats each other on the back for a long day's work. Yet Neighbors 2 finds a way to bring freshness to the table, even though the premise and the plot beats are exactly the same as the first film. They do this by updating the themes and the characters, while inserting a much-appreciated feminist angle into a raunchy and outrageous comedy that also manages to be politically incorrect.

Mac and Kelly's next door nightmare sorority begins with Shelby (Chloe Grace-Moretz), a party-loving stoner freshman who's understandably upset at the sexist rule that states only fraternities can throw parties. Her thoughts on this issue worsen when she sees firsthand how misogynistic and "rapey" the frat parties tend to be. Disgusted by this double standard, she decides to open a sorority with her best friends, and guess where they set it up, you guys? Yes, just when Mac and Kelly are about the sell their house, the sorority moves in next door and begins to wreak an even bigger havoc than the frat they had to battle.

If they stand any chance at beating the sorority, the couple has to recruit the devious pranking talents of their old frat enemy Teddy (Zac Efron). I realize that this is yet another sequel cliché, where the bad guy from the original becomes an ally to the protagonists in the sequel, but the writers find a way to give Teddy a brand new character arc, where he finds himself in an existential tailspin after his best friend (Dave Franco) prepares to marry his boyfriend. Since they have a daughter, Mac and Kelly are also conflicted about their aggression against the sorority.

They definitely don't want to lose the sale, but they also don't want their little one to be exposed to such a sexist system when she grows up. Even though the sequel has its' share of outrageous comedy set pieces where the two sides rip each other apart (A high octane sequence revolving around a weed heist is the centerpiece of the film), the couple begins to empathize with the sisters, leading to a somewhat anti-climactic, but thematically resonant finale. Neighbors 2 is the rare sequel that finds more to say about the original's premise.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Neighbors is a colorful comedy that uses quite a bit of fast-paced editing during the party scenes. So the representation of those colors is important in this 1080p transfer. This Blu-ray passes with flying colors (No pun intended) on that end. There isn't any noticeable video noise, and the theatrical experience is perfectly emulated.

Audio:

Since this is a comedy about hard partying, expect the DTS-HD 5.1 track to test the limits of your system. There's a healthy amount of surround presence in the mix, the dialogue and the sfx are incredibly clear. Overall, this is a very impressive home video experience for a comedy.

Extras:

Deleted Scenes: We get a whopping 25 minutes of deleted material. Some funny stuff here and there, but you can skim through it.

Gag Reel: A pretty fun set of outtakes. Lasts about five minutes.

Line-O-Rama: This is a Judd Apatow-Seth Rogen practice of adding unused improv lines in the special features. I'm not a big fan of these, since it undermines the lines that were actually used.

Nu Neighbors: An 8-minute EPK about the new story in the sequel.

The Prodigal Bros Return: A five-minute featurette about how Efron's character returned to the new story.

Girls Rule: A six-minute featurette about the sorority and the characters in it.

The Ultimate Tailgate: A five-minute breakdown of the aforementioned central scene.

Commentary with Co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller and Producer James Weaver: This is a loose yet fairly informational commentary that outlines how the premise for the sequel was executed.

Final Thoughts:

With Neighbors 2, we get the same exact premise handled in the exact same way, but Stoller and his writing team expand on the characters while adding new themes into the mix in order to make sure the franchise doesn't go stale. With a stellar A/V presentation on the Blu-ray, Neighbors 2 is highly recommended to the fans of the first film.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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