Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is a refreshing, progressive bro comedy that women can finally relate to without being completely objectified. Aiming at the misogyny centered in colleges, it is incredibly self-aware and manages to be fun to watch. The movie is explicitly feminist but the comedic tone presents the subject matter without throwing it into viewers faces in a serious, preachy way.
The character Shelby, played by Chloe Grace Mortez, aims to provide a sorority that fights against the sexist college system, where only fraternities can throw parties. Tired of those parties that target young women as sex objects, “Kappa Nu” throws parties the female characters actually want to go to. They accept anyone, dress any way they wish, and throw any party they want, including a “Feminist Icon Party”.
The interactions between the female characters feel grounded in reality rather than two dimensional, distinctly different from most comedies. As a female in college, I found these characters intensely relatable and was overjoyed to see the typical bro-comedy torn apart in a satirical manner. The scene when they go to a frat party for the first time and are immediately targeted and disgusted by what they see was all too familiar, but that side of the experience is rarely shared on screen. Instead of showing a frat party as crazy, fun, and a great time, Neighbors 2 represents how uncomfortable and “super rapey” (as Beth puts it in the film) those parties can be for young women.
Shelby and her friends roll their eyes at sexist comments and dismiss men that see them for nothing but their bodies. Rather than objectifying the women, this film blatantly objectifies Teddy, played by Zac Efron, as he dances on stage shirtless, in tiny shorts. However, he is presented as more than the typical masculine bro. Although he was head of his fraternity and is seen making a few sexist comments, he learns from the women around him and slowly adapts a more feminist attitude, claiming you can’t call girls “hoes” anymore.
This film is ultimately about the death of masculine stereotypes, making fun of the “common” male in a way that isn’t preachy at all. The presentation of masculinity is extremely progressive. Teddy is seen crying multiple times, showing even the seemingly biggest bro has a more sensitive side. Pete, a womanizing frat bro from the first films, gets engaged unexpectedly to another man, demolishing gay stereotypes.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is all about equality. It was a refreshing break from the over-the-top, intensely masculine comedies that usually dominate the box office. It perfectly executes what it feels like to be young feminist in a patriarchal society, as well as the potential danger of traditional masculinity.