by John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — Everything you need to know about the witless comedy “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (Universal), you’ll learn from a description of the opening scene.
This finds suburban husband and wife Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner in the throes of lovemaking — but with Kelly feeling incongruously queasy.
As you might guess, the outcome of this initial situation is something moviegoers would rather not, um, face.
Yet there’s something even worse than mere tastelessness in store, and that’s this throwaway flick’s pious attempt to preach a dumbed-down version of feminism. According to this philosophy — a sort of Cheech-and-Chong Zen for chicks — women have the same right to pass their college years in a narcotic haze as do their male counterparts.
Trying this viewpoint out in practice is a trio of disaffected freshmen: Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein). They rebel against the male-dominated social scene on their new campus by founding a supposedly liberated sorority, Kappa Nu.
Unfortunately for Mac and Kelly — whose rivalry with the fraternity next door was chronicled in the franchise’s 2014 original — under the guidance of Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), the now-graduated frat boy who was once the couple’s chief adversary, the party-loving ladies set up house in the same dwelling the brothers used to occupy.
This endangers the Radners’ tentative agreement to sell their home, a deal they can’t afford to have fail.
As the grown-ups tussle with the coeds, returning director Nicholas Stoller — who collaborated on the script with Rogen and three others — pulls out all the stops. One running gag has Mac and Kelly’s toddler daughter, Stella (Elise Vargas), constantly carrying around the adult toy that has become her favorite plaything. And a low point in the Radners’ fortunes comes when the gals of Kappa Nu bombard their residence with used tampons.
A subplot has Teddy’s best friend, frat bro and roommate, Pete (Dave Franco), becoming engaged to his live-in boyfriend. Amid the congratulations that follow, Pete’s legendary exploits in heterosexual promiscuity are glowingly recounted.
Viewers not paying close attention might draw the mistaken conclusion that Pete once had an unusual affinity for a certain-orange flavored breakfast drink associated with the space program.
The film contains distorted values, including a benign view of drug use and of the gay lifestyle, explicit sexual acts, a glimpse of graphic nudity, pervasive sexual and gross-out humor, several uses of profanity and relentless rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.