“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

Comedy sequels aren’t usually my jam since they try to recapture their predecessor’s magic, *coughs* “The Hangover Part II” *coughs*. But “Neighbors 2” doesn’t have that problem. In fact, it holds its own and improves upon the first “Neighbors.”

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are now expecting their second child, buy a new house, and sell their home they’ve had since the first movie. They’re stressed when they realize that they’re not only under a 30-day inspection trial, but that a sorority moves next door, led by the charismatic freshman Shelby (Chloe Moretz). And if you saw “Neighbors,” you know where this is going.

“Neighbors 2” begins slightly rough with a sex gag strongly reminiscent of its predecessor’s opening scene, and a couple of tasteless vomit and poop gags. Once Shelby is introduced and we’re reunited with Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), “Neighbors 2” takes off.

Mac and Kelly have the same shtick as they did in “Neighbors,” being the young couple who thinks they’re cool and hip. Surprisingly, we spend a lot more time with Teddy, who’s trying to find value and self-worth. Sounds melodramatic, but the situations he’s in are too hilarious and charming to miss.

Shelby and her sorority sisters have a positive message in the movie regarding sorority politics, and their motive as a party-privileged sorority is believable. It also leads to jokes about what is and isn’t sexist without getting too mean or insensitive.

“Neighbors 2” repeats a lot of the same jokes from its predecessor; however, there are some they manage to carry on without getting repetitive. I was the only one laughing at a scene where Mac’s boss evacuates the office to avoid another airbag incident (see “Neighbors”).

Tone-wise, “Neighbors 2” doesn’t come off uncertain like the first one. I liked “Neighbors 1,” but it bugged me how it wasn’t sure if it wanted to be a dramatic comedy or a slapstick one. “Neighbors 2” is more confident and is what the first one wanted to be: a slapstick comedy with human elements.

Grade: B+