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MOVIE REVIEW: 'Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising'

Posted at 6:10 AM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 09:54:34-04

"Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" starts with Rose Byrne puking in Seth Rogen's face, and it's all downhill from there.

The opening scene is a sign of what's to come in the rest of the movie. The cinematic equivalent of word vomit, the film hurls out every weird and gross concept it can conjure, without a care of relevance, logic or comedy. You'll wince, you'll cringe, and you'll even laugh a few times, but you'll walk away ashamed and holding your nose.

The original "Neighbors," which pitted Rogen and Byrne as a pre-middle age suburbanite couple who engaged the frat house next door in a war of escalating sabotage, was a free-spirited joy. The sequel tries to recapture the magic by forcing its absurdity, and the strained effort yields diminishing returns. Rogen, a comedic ace who can thrive with tepid material, gives the movie all the watchability it has.

This time around, Rogen and Byrne are out to sell their house to move into their dream home, but their plans are scuttled when an upstart sorority moves in to the old frat house, threatening to scare off a potential buyer. Efron, who played the couple's bro-nemesis in the first film, is back to help the sorority (led by Chloe Grace-Moretz) to start up a new prank war. Why? Just because.

Allegiances shift, lighthearted neighborly passive aggression ramps up to felony assault and grand theft, and logic is strained well past Wile E. Coyote-Roadrunner territory.

Although "Neighbors 2" is objectively horrible, it does manage to crank out some decent laughs. Examples of horrible parenting by Rogen and Byrne are usually amusing, especially a recurring gag in which their toddler daughter looking for play things in mommy's private drawer. 

Efron is an awkward fit, especially when he eye-rollingly buddies up with Rogen, but plays against his natural cool for some winning comeuppances. Byrne is game to do whatever, whether the script calls for her to puke, dress up in a cheerleader outfit or demean herself by being made up old and frumpy in contrast to her nubile enemies.

The movie is a sad waste of time in theaters, but is worth exactly the $1.50 you might spend renting it on Redbox months from now. As bad as it is, it is sure to be way better than "Neighbors 3."

RATING: 2 stars out of 4


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HBO wasted little time in pumping out the latest season of Lena Dunham's iconic dramedy about women in their 20s making their way in the world. A wedding, a same-sex romance, breakups and career drama await the excellent cast of characters in arguably the strongest season yet. The digital version of the season is so loaded with extras that there is no reason to wait for the disc release. Special features include a Dunham-led set visit, an interview with actress Jenny Slate, who plays the Dunham character's college nemesis, a look at the Tokyo-set scenes and a recap of season four.

How to be Single

Dakota Johnson ("Fifty Shades of Grey") stars as a newly single woman in her mid-20s seeking to find herself, and what she ends up with is an entertaining and wildly funny coming-of-age farce, told winningly from a female writing perspective. Rebel Wilson plays her sexually aggressive best pal, Leslie Mann is her career-minded sister and Alison Brie plays a Type-A overthinker desperate to find her soulmate. A strong story wraps up with a beautiful finish, making for an excellent girls; night flick. Deleted scenes, a gag reel and Wilson's best ad-libs that didn't make the cut highlight the special features in the Blu-ray/digital copy combo.

Major Crimes: Season 4

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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Sport-Y-thon

Mickey and his pals prep for the Olympics by taking part in educational-minded sporting events, teaching sportsmanship in endearing ways. An excellent set of episodes for toddlers and early elementary school kids who are starting to take an interest in sports, this DVD delivers a strong set of loosely related episodes. The set includes six episodes of the show, as well as a toy gold medal and activity booklet.

The Player

Director Robert Altman's most accessible film, this 1992 Hollywood satire delivers stinging wittiicsms and excellent performances. Tim Robbins, Peter Gallagher and Whoopi Goldberg slice into the facade of celebrity and film culture, exposing the dark underbelly hidden from the public eye. A 4K digital restoration has the film looking better than it ever had on home video. Extras include he original filmmaker commentary track, press conference and an Altman interview, as well as deleted scenes and a tribute essay by author Sam Wasson. 

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Joseph Fiennes takes on the role of Jesus Christ with aplomb, centering an offbeat tale told from the perspective of a Roman cynic who investigates Jesus's life and gradually becomes a believer. Although burdened by stiff storytelling constructs and performances (other than the lead), the film is made with an admirable eye for period detail and shimmers in a gloriously sharp image transfer. The 4K/digital copy combo includes deleted scenes and four making-of featurettes.