Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising ***1/2
It’s rare for a sequel to out-funny the original, but in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Seth Rogan was added to the original writing team of Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien to create some really funny dialog and funny slapstick moments. It helps that Neighbors (2014) was only marginally funny, so it may not have been difficult to improve on the first in the franchise. No one doubts Rogan’s ability to deliver, but Zac Efron continues to impress with comedic timing and range. Also back from the original is the adorable Aussie Rose Byrn, goofy and charming Dave Franco, along with Ike Barinholtz. New to the Neighbors’ world, which pits 30-something neighbors (Rogan and Byrne) against College kids run-a-muck, is 19-year-old Chloe Grace Mortez, who plays the struggling Sorority’s ring leader. Expect plenty of potty humor, a few mandatory and explicit vomit scenes, and some genuine laughs along the way.
The Nice Guys ***
Partially masquerading as an L.A. crime noir set in 1977, The Nice Guys’ leads, Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling, have an undeniable chemistry to due to their exceptional talents and natural on-screen charisma. The film, written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), pairs a strongman-for-hire (Crowe), with a down-on-his-luck and bumbling private eye, Gosling. The buddy comedy/mystery follows an intriguing plot, revolving around murdered porn stars, graft, right-wing conspiracies, and family difficulties as Gosling’s character navigates parenting a precocious 13-year-old girl (Angourie Rice). Though there are some genuinely funny moments in the film, there’s also some over-acting, especially on Gosling’s part. He actually invokes a Three Stooges tongue-tied delivery during one scene that was embarrassing to watch. It was unfunny, unnecessary and distracting, from the otherwise decent film. Crowe, who gained around 50 pounds for his role as the conflicted thug, was comical just to look at, and even funnier with his usual underplayed style.