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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Young married couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner (“Okay”) are continuing (“There we go”) their spontaneous sex life (“That's good”) some two years after their brouhaha (“I'm a vocal lover”) with their bad (2014) “Neighbors” the Delta Psi Beta (Δ Ψ B) fraternity. As happens among healthy hetero­sexuals there's a new addition on the way (“Baby, I think I might be pregnant”)—they already have one toddler Stella.

Four months later (“Hide your bangs”) they're enter­taining prospective buyers (“mixed prospects”) of their home. They luck out with a racially mixed couple (“black cock”) and sell the house, Sold. However, their real estate agent informs them, “You're in escrow.” That entails a “thirty day period of inspections” during which the buyers may back out. The Radners have “no escrow on the other house in the suburbs,” which they've already bought. They're advised to, “Clean up your mess.”

Meanwhile at local Braxton University, party girls Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feld­stein) are rushing the Φ Λ sorority only to learn, “Sororities are not allowed to throw parties in their houses; only frats can.” That puts a damper on their (“Every­thing but”) ambitions as the rule is enforced, “Don't do drugs.” Their solution is to start their own off-campus sorority out­side the system if they can.

Meanwhile former Δ Ψ B frat brother Pete Ragazolli (Dave Franco) has got engaged and must ask his room­mate ex-fraternity president Teddy (Zac Efron) to find new digs. In wandering the streets Teddy visits his old haunt the vacant frat house, stumbles on the three broads with their agent, and intro­duces him­self as, “Teddy Sanders, I used to live here.” When he learns they are starting the Kappa Nu (K N) Sorority, and they that he “ran the Δ Ψ for four years”, they join forces, he showing them how to manage and afford their new house, and they allowing him a place to crash.

When their next door neighbors the Radners come calling (“Hi, neighbors”) asking them to tone it down for three months until we're out of escrow, Teddy (“I have a criminal record because of you guys”) advises his girls to party hearty. Remarks Shelby, “It's on!”

As the conflict intensifies Teddy himself is conflicted with generational loyalties (“You're an old person”), mom Kelly with loyalties to her universal sister­hood, and the sorority's minions to the status quo. One or more of them may decide, “I'm switching sides.”


The humor derives from complications to adding one more item to the mix: another baby on the way, a new sorority out­side the system, a room­mate's new same-sex fiancé. Later it all condenses into the spelling of one word, sorority. One of the crew says, there's no ‘i’ in sorority. Another counters there's two ‘i's’ in it. Then it's explained that one of those ‘i's’ is a ‘y’. Kelly settles the matter by spelling it out: sorori­titty. Okay.

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” follows the rising letter count of this word by following the evolution of another word altogether. The three party girls want to get high, what the French euphem­istic­ally call gai, i.e. happy.

The French gai came into the English language as gay, changing an ‘i’ to a ‘y’. To abridge Webster: “gay  adj  1  merry; 2  colorful; 3  licentious; 4  homo­sexual.” Kor­zyb­ski sug­gests “index numbers to break up false identi­fi­cations” (139). The K N sorority girls are prone to throwing gay1 parties: a lot of merriment, that kind of gay. The Radners' friend Jimmy (Ike Barin­holtz) wears a gay2 clown costume, sporting bright red hair when he infiltrates the parties. The word gay3 as licentious has morphed in current usage of gay as explained by a writer-character in the 2014 movie, “Love is Strange.” It's now used by the young in the expression, “That's so gay,” having nothing to do with sexual orientation, but meaning (broadly) “stupid” in some off­beat way. In this movie it's applicable to the way the Radners let their toddler Stella play with her mom's vibrator as her favorite toy. That's so gay. And Pete comes our of the closet as being gay. Here is meant he's gay4, homosexual.

In this movie unemployable Teddy finally finds work in “gay wedding planning. It's the only job I can do with a criminal record.” Now we have to look at a definition of marriage and a little bit of history. To quote Dr. Ide, “The Con­tem­por­ary Christian stan­dard was defined not by the bible but gen­er­ated by Roman law as defined by the jurist Modest­inus who argued that marriage was ‘consortium omnis vitae, divini et humani iuris communi­catio: a life-long part­ner­ship, and a sharing of civil and religious rights’” (83–5). It's not just what the state, the civil authority decides, but religious authority has some play in the matter, too. According to cultural historian David Hackett Fischer, the Puritans had “a cultural idea of marriage that was unique to the Puritan colonies. … The Puritans of New England rejected all the Anglican ideas. They believed that marriage was not a religious but a civil contract” (77). In the New England states—& NY & DC—the civil contract was the whole shebang, so once laws against sodomy were removed from the books it was a simple matter of equal rights to open (civil) marriage to homo­sexuals. The rest of the states did not abide such a redefinition. Then the courts stepped in to force acceptance of same-sex marriage by all. But since gay can mean so many things it was not used in a legal definition necessarily calling for precision. There­fore the popular consensus voting to exclude homosexuals from marrying each other of the same sex would prevail in popular usage negating “gay marriage” when meaning such homogamy. The newspapers get their grammar wrong in this regard, but they could safely use the expression “gay and lesbian marriage” to contextualize it should they choose.

In 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the states' bans against same-sex marriage were pseudo- unconsti­tutional—marriage isn't actually mentioned in the Constitution. Yet quoting from the “Catholic Sentinel”: (15)

The main opinion recognized in several places the role of religious beliefs in the questions surrounding same-sex marriage. Kennedy said toward the conclusion of his 28-page opinion that “it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

The First Amendment ensures protection for religious organizations and individuals as they seek to teach the principles “that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths,” he continued, and to “their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

Webster includes in his definition of “marriage: 3: an intimate or close union.” According to the prophet, (Isaiah 62:4-5) “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bride­groom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” Beulah is a Hebrew word meaning ‘married’. The land was to be in close union with the Jews. Other things can be spoken of as in close union, i.e. married, including two same-sex partners any more. And “a young man marrieth a virgin, … and … the bride­groom rejoiceth over the bride,” is a gay1 wedding, i.e. a happy one in the ordinary sense. Except perhaps for a New England regional dialect, that is what all those states accepted as a standard usage when they rejected homo­sexuals marrying each other to have some other kind of gay4 wedding. The Supreme Court did not change common usage but rather supported it, for religious and other reasons. In this movie the dyad “gay4 wedding” is of non­standard usage corresponding to “sororititty.”

Teddy's résumé would include his work experience as a male model, an advisor to a sororititty, and a gay wedding planner. If he wanted to make it look more acceptable to a prospective employer, he'd do well to change—among other things—that last item to either just “wedding planner” or “gay and lesbian wedding planner.” In this movie African-Americans are treated res­pect­fully, women are allowed to be strong, and men to marry each other. Society-wise every­thing has come out copacetic in the wash … except for our vocabulary where we've got our titty caught in the wringer, our knickers in a twist, our ass in a crack.

Production Values

This sequel, “” (2016) follows “Neighbors” (2014). Both were directed by Nicholas Stoller. The two writers from the first one, Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O'Brien, are joined by Seth Rogen, Evan Gold­berg & director Nicholas Stoller for this one. It stars Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne and Chloe Grace Moretz. Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen reprise well their roles as sloppy mom and dad. Zac Efron is his usual forceful self. Chloe Grace Moretz is more than good looks as she establishes a female character developing independence. The rest of the cast does admirably as well.

MPAA rated it R for crude sexual content including brief graphic nudity, language through­out, drug use and teen partying. It was filmed in Los Angeles, California, USA, the state whose Proposition 8 prohibits same-sex marriage, still in their constitution though unenforce­able thanks to the Supreme Court that does however allow speech opposed to such unions.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Neighbors 2” is saucily funny from beginning to end, a continual train of jokes that hit home more than miss. It will make you laugh, cry, and/or cringe all the way through thanks to its good writing. It's not the disappointment usually expected from sequels; rather it develops its own formulas more suited to the feminine perspective, more ready to compromise than brazen it out. This is a winner if you don't mind a bit of necessary age-appropriate crudity.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Suspense: Several suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotation is from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Catholic Sentinel.” July 3, 2015. Print.

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America.
  New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Print, WEB.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing.
  Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

Korzybski, Alfred. Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non- Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. Quoted in Stuart Chase, Power of Words. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1954. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. 1984. Print.