Neighbors 2 Review

Neighbors 2

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is the latest comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller who had been involved in a fair number of modern comedies including Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement, and the more recent Muppet movies.

Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron reprise their roles from the first Neighbors movie as Mac, Kelly, and Teddy respectively. A couple of the side characters return as well but who cares about them?

The fraternity from the last movie has sold their house and moved on. Mac and Kelly are getting ready to sell their place to upgrade for more acreage or something (the reason is never really stated).

They have a buyer and they enter the closing period of escrow when suddenly a sorority moves in next door in the fraternity’s old house!

The reason for the sorority’s existence is a rather nice critique on the Greek system which I will attempt to explain.

Good sororities are almost always a part of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). Membership in NPC comes with lots of support, but also lots of rules.

These rules happen to be a bit… sexist. Sororities are not allowed to throw parties or have alcohol in their houses. To get those things they have to go to fraternities.

And as the movie shows, fraternities can have a rapey atmosphere at their parties.

In Neighbors 2, a girl named Shelby decides to buck the system by forming an independent sorority along with her two friends, Nora and Beth.

Having a sorority next door threatens the closing of the sale for Mac and Kelly so naturally a prank war begins just like in the first Neighbors.

It’s a traditional and predictable comedy so at the end everyone has a happy ever after. I won’t spoil more than that.

There’s plenty of good jokes and funny scenes. There might not be a romantic subplot, but it’s a blast.

If you’ve seen Nicholas Stoller’s other stuff I think you’ll like Neighbors 2. If you haven’t seen any of his movies then you should get out from under your rock and go see Neighbors 2.

My favorite part was how the movie approached the sorority girls’ unique brand of feminism.

It’s less socially acceptable for women to do drugs, be gross, and make jokes than men. Instead women are encouraged to be dainty, polite, and out of sight.

The characters in Neighbors 2 directly challenge that stereotype. They smoke and sell pot. They don’t dress up for men and they joke about how they look fabulous with Cheetos in their hair. They throw used tampons at Mac and Kelly’s windows and laugh when it’s suggested that a used tampon is any different than the used condoms that were thrown around in Neighbors 1.

Best of all, Shelby, Nora, and Beth also accept women who don’t want to challenge the American stereotype of what a sorority girl is. If you want to be pretty and polite, that’s fine too.

So if you’re looking for a movie with a strong feminist message or just for some laughs, Neighbors 2 is right for you!

-GoCorral

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Review

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Poster

My wife and I went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 hoping for a fun comedy with elements of romance. Instead we got a romance with a few jokes.

I saw the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding with my mom when I was about ten years old. I don’t remember much about it, but I do recall not liking it.

Not surprising, why would ten year old me like a romance movie? There were a lot of things I didn’t like when I was ten that I enjoy now.

If you’ve seen the trailer then you already know the movie is about Toula rekindling her romance with Ian while her daughter is getting ready to leave for college. Additionally, Toula’s parents discover that their priest never signed their original wedding license so they are not officially married. Hijinks ensue as the wedding is planned and the family’s exaggerated Greek culture clashes with traditional American values.

Is it a comedy? Is it a romance? Is it a drama? The trailer certainly presents it as a comedy.

Unfortunately, the trailer was designed to trick you. The movie is definitely a romance. There aren’t many jokes in the actual movie that weren’t present in the movie.

Even worse, the trailer edited the punchlines with better comedic timing and music. Many of the jokes in the trailer fall flat in the movie because of poor timing that the editor should have corrected.

The drama element of the movie is… dull and predictable. Gus, the grandpa, doesn’t want to propose again to the grandma, Maria, because he thinks his first proposal was good enough. She stops being his housewife and doing all his chores until he finally gives her a lackluster proposal while being hauled away in a stretcher to an ambulance (his hip broke or something).

There’s also some stuff about Toula not wanting her daughter to leave Illinois for college. Surprise! The daughter decides to leave and Toula decides to support her decision.

You weren’t really surprised were you? Neither was I.

Fortunately, the romance of the movie was spot on. There’s a few tear-jerker elements and the weak jokes spice up the romance enough to make it interesting.

Greek Wedding 2 isn’t a homerun romance movie like The Notebook or anything else made by Nicholas Sparks, but it was decent. My wife and I felt closer after seeing parts of our happy relationship paralleled on the big screen.

Greek Wedding 2 had dozens of callbacks to the first movie that neither my wife nor I recognized. I’m sure that someone who enjoyed the original movie would like those parts of the sequel as well.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that I’m recommending this movie to people that liked the original. My faint memory of the first movie tells me that the second is a lot like it in many respects. You get to see how the characters have aged and grown and hear all your favorite jokes told in different ways.

The best part, you get to see Gus and some of his grandkids explain how every word in the world has a Greek origin. As a grecophile myself, I loved this running joke.

-GoCorral

The Choice Movie Review

The Choice

My wife picked Nicholas Spark’s latest movie adaption, The Choice, for us to see. She’d heard it was like the new Notebook which we both liked.

The Choice can best be described as two movies glued together. Let’s dive into it!

Travis, played by Ted Cruz lookalike Benjamin Walker, is a womanizing veterinarian who has a semi-steady girlfriend.

Gabby, played by Teresa “looks like a heroin addict” Palmer, is training to be a doctor and is dating one of her superiors at the hospital, Ryan.

Gabby moves next to Travis and they soon realize they are a terrible fit for each other and that Gabby will never sleep with Travis.

Of course Travis can’t have that! He slowly seduces her. They break up and get together. Yadah yadah, typical romance movie stuff.

Now normally the movie would end there, with the happy couple’s wedding.

The Choice is no ordinary movie though!

Fast forward seven years and Gabby is in a coma due to a car accident.

The movie does not spring this on you suddenly. The first scene was actually Travis entering the hospital with flowers and everything else was a flashback.

Travis has to make the titular Choice, keep Gabby alive in the hope that she will return to him and their two children or remove life support?

I won’t spoil his choice or the results/consequences. The end had many tear jerking moments and that’s all you need to know.

The second part of the movie is great and I’d definitely recommend it. As for the first part…

The first half of the movie suffered from the disease of “all these characters are jerks.”

Everyone had some sort of adolescent sexist agenda. Travis is a lady killer. Gabby distrusts all men. Travis’s sister thinks that because Travis and Gabby are opposites that they will obviously get together.

The minor characters get included in the sexist mess as well. Travis’s friends wives say, “Men have more fun if they feel like they’re getting away with something.”

Additionally, the characters have zero problems in their lives except what I already outlined.

As another review I read states, “in the Nicholas Sparks universe, everyone is beautiful and successful.”

While this let’s the audience focus on the plot it did seem odd to me. For example, Travis encounters no racism when he hangs out with his black friends in Carolina. The Confederate flag is also mysteriously absent from landscape shots of the harbor.

I think that would’ve made an interesting sideplot but I understand why it wasn’t included. The movie is about Travis and Gabby, not Travis and his friends. There might’ve even been a conscious choice to leave our racism with the notion that if racism is absent in media then it could eventually vanish in real life.

Regardless of intentions, all these elements disrupted my suspension of disbelief during the film. I kept thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, why isn’t that there?” or “Oh God, another sexist/patronizing speech.”

Adding to that, Walker looks 40 years old in The Choice while Palmer looks 20. This isn’t accidental. The characters they play are actually 10-15 years apart in age. It adds this whole other creepy element of cradle robbing to the film.

Despite all that I’d still recommend the film for its stellar second half. My gripes disappear there and I can wholeheartedly recommend the movie for a Valentine’s Day date with your significant other.

-GoCorral

The Longest Ride Movie Review

Another movie that my wife and I saw together (Oh my God! He never writes movie reviews!).

Unlike Cinderella this movie had the level of passion I’ve come to expect from romance movies.

The Longest Ride is another Nicholas Sparks book turned to a movie. It seems like he and Stephen King get every single one of their books optioned into a movie script.

If you’ve seen The Notebook this is more of what that movie offered. It even has a story within a story like The Notebook.

The Longest Ride starts by establishing a budding relationship between Sophia, aspiring art student, and Luke, professional bull rider.

On the way home from their first date at a secluded lake Luke and Sophia spot a crashed car off the side of the road. They pull an old man from the wreckage. He’s a bit out of it, but he has enough sense to ask them to save a box from the backseat of the car.

They rush him to the hospital. Somewhere in there Sophia tells Luke that she’s moving to New York for an art internship in two months and she’s not sure she wants a serious relationship.

They get the man to the hospital and Luke leaves. Sophia stays and opens the box to find dozens of letters written by the rescued man, Ira, to his wife, Ruth.

When Ira awakes, Sophia tells him she read one of the letters and he asks her to read the rest to him as his eyesight no longer allows him to read them to himself (Ruth is dead and can’t read them to him either).

From there the movie tells two parallel storylines of the romance between Ira and Ruth and the romance between Luke and Sophia.

Luke and Sophia have the drama of Sophia’s plan to move to New York, Luke’s persistence in bull riding even after a serious injury, and the culture clash between their two worlds.

Ira and Ruth are two Jews that escaped Nazi Europe and fall in love in the USA. Ira joins the army to fight the Nazis and sustains an injury that sterilizes him. The main conflict in that story is Ira’s inability to have children and Ruth’s desire to fill that void anyway she can.

Both the stories are fun in their own way and while one segment is going on I started to develop a thirst to find out what was happening in the other segment.

If you’ve seen one Nicholas Sparks movie you’ve seen them all. You probably already know exactly what’s going to happen in this movie. My wife and I happen to like Nicholas Sparks movies, so I’d definitely recommend this to anyone else who enjoyed other adaptions of his work.

-GoCorral