neighbors-2In interviews Seth Rogen seems like such a likeable guy. He comes across as genuine, down to earth and the kind of person you could sit down with and have a great conversation. In his films he’s only as good as his material, however, and his positive persona is not enough to save his latest effort, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, although he certainly can’t be blamed for not putting forth a valiant effort. He, along with co-stars Zac Efron and Rose Byrne, try their best but the material, which Rogen, along with four other credited writers put together, just reeks of desperation. This is the kind of ‘comedy’ that begins with a joke involving a female sex toy and ends with that same joke ninety minutes later after having bludgeoned it to death. If you find yourself bowled over with laughter at a joke such as the one contained here when a pregnant woman of Jewish faith is referred to as having a ‘little Jew in the oven,’ then I guess you’ve found your film.

The original Neighbors was a slight but sometimes funny film that occasionally raised a chuckle or two from yours truly. Whatever humor there was to be found in that first film is recycled ad infinitum in the second installment to the point of leaving the viewer to wonder if they’re watching alternate takes of scenes from the first film. They even go as far as to recycle a gag involving an automobile air bag from the first film.

The film begins with a somewhat funny scene involving intimacy between Rogen and his onscreen wife, Byrne, but then it’s all downhill from there. For the next twenty minutes of the film, the two main stars disappear altogether in order for the filmmakers to set up the film’s plot. That amount of set up time for a plot in a comedy is a red flag to begin with if you ask me, but I digress.

The thin strand of a plot that holds the film together involves a bunch of college girls lead by actress Chloe Grace Moretz purchasing the house next door to Rogen and Byrne and wreaking havoc on the couple’s lives. Zac Efron returns from the first film and sides with the girls at first but eventually teams up with Rogen and Byrne in order to outwit the noisy college kids. It’s funny how the couple lives in a residential neighborhood and yet Rogen and Byrne are the only neighbors who seem to have a problem with all the debauchery. That in itself requires a major suspension of disbelief but that’s another story.

As in most of Rogen’s films things take a serious turn towards the end but I could have cared less. Sitting through this mess was enough to question whether I’m even up for Rogen’s next endeavor, as much as I do like the guy. I suppose one shouldn’t confuse the actor with his so called art.

All these movies are playing at the Carmike in Hickory and other area theaters.

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