Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, “Pretty raunchy, pretty funny, pretty Zac Efron”
BY BOB FISHER
NEIGHBORS 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
4 STARS (out of 5)
SORORITY RISING is a surprisingly good movie. Zac Efron gives one of his best performances and his comedy timing is flawless. Like so many raunchy comedies, there is sweetness at the end of the film complete with a strong moral message.
The raunchy, politically incorrect, groaning out loud moments, are all still there. There are lots of those moments but while screening this film I could tell, the audience had a good time. The difference between NEIGHBORS 1 and 2 is Mac (played by Seth Rogen) and Kelly (played by Rose Byrne) together with their young daughter, now have purchased a beautiful new home. Teddy (played by Zac Efron) has not yet found himself and is without a roof over his head. Instead of life in the fraternity, we now find young college girls in a sorority who just want to have fun.
At first blush, Zac Efron has plenty of opportunities to take off his shirt and show off his famous physique. The movie really belongs to him, but not because of his body. Under his leadership, he provides the moral compass. Everyone involved in the film seems to grow and gain a more mature perspective on what is important in life. Whether as young college students, as elders or those in-between, we all eventually grow and mature. In doing so, we not only find ourselves, but we find our place in the world. We become neighbors in the truest sense of the word.
THE ANGRY BIRDS (2016)
2 STARS (out of 5)
It was a real struggle for me to fall in love with a film whose premise is to search and destroy. For those not familiar, the movie is based on a video game adventure where flightless birds are launched by a slingshot to destroy all the pigs on the playing field. In the movie, the pigs have a devious plan to take over Bird Island and commit mass murder of all the stolen unhatched eggs.
The transition from video game to the big 3-D screen brings a disturbing reality to this animated carnage. The birds could not be cuter. The pigs could not be deadlier. With this movie, unfortunately, my age is showing. Disturbed, I took the time to listen carefully to the scores of kids and their parents giving their reactions while filing out of the theater.
“Best movie ever!” said one child.
“Awesome!” said another.
“Clever!” “Funny!” “Great!”
Finally, I heard a few mild objections coming from the adults. “No objection to content, but uncomfortable with the repetition of one inappropriate word,” said one adult.
Way back in 1961, the great Oscar-winning film, WEST SIDE STORY, pushed the Catholic Legion of Decency envelope in ending the Officer Krupke number with the gang shout out of “KRUP YOU!”
Some fifty-five years later, “PLUCK YOU” doesn’t sound so dirty anymore. At least, not for angry birds.
THE MEDDLER (2016)
4 STARS (out of 5)
THE MEDDLER is yet another beautiful art film that will be lost to any mass audience in 2016. That is a shame. Just as with Don Cheadle’s Oscar worthy performance in MILES AHEAD, Susan Sarandon’s astonishing performance in THE MEDDLER will be missed.
We all know someone like Marnie (played by Susan Sarandon) and her daughter Lori (played by Rose Byrne). It is profoundly devastating to lose a husband or a father. Grief remains the most challenging and difficult emotion to get through, but it is the one that everyone faces. Credit goes to film writer and director Lorene Scafaria for bringing an adult film with such honesty, such authenticity, and such tenderness to the big screen.
Marnie is lost and adrift in her sadness. What she does not get from her daughter, she finds with strangers. We all know someone like Lori, who feels that her mother is smothering and intrusive. So like many of us, this child builds a wall.
Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (as Zipper) continues to shine in a most touching and beautiful performance. No doubt, this is absolutely the number one movie that I recommend for you to see this week. From out of such darkness, we can find light and hope and love.
In the end, THE MEDDLER is uplifting.