With all the flak that the upcoming Ghostbusters movie is catching, it seems like women can hardly do anything without inciting a tsunami of salty-ass fanboy tears. But another movie, out in theaters today, is doubling down on the fact that there is room for comedy in feminism and room for feminism in comedy—and it’s taken critics everywhere by surprise.
Nearly every single review of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising has had something positive to say, highlighting the unexpected delight that is a bro-y feminist movie. Picking up where Neighbors left off, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne reprise their roles as Mac and Kelly Radnor, a pair of bumbling parents who are now expecting baby number two and trying to sell their house when, lo and behold, a sorority moves in next door.
In response to the actual real-life rule that sororities can’t host boozy parties, bright-eyed—but also red-eyed if u know what I mean, ayyy 420 blaze it—college freshman Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) and two of her friends decide to create their own sorority, Kappa Nu. I haven't seen the first Neighbors (in which there was a rowdy frat one door down from the Radnors), but it was nevertheless pretty clear that the plot of Sorority Rising was in many ways a loose copy of the original, in typical sequel fashion. And yet, it was so much more.
Neighbors 2 passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. It might even pass the Russo test, the LGBT equivalent of the Bechdel test. Dave Franco’s character Pete is now 1) gay, but obviously 2) it doesn’t define him, and 3) he’s pretty central to the plot despite not having a lot of screen time. The script even features some jabs at police brutality and racism.
The dialogue constantly calls out everyday sexism, particularly in Greek culture, while celebrating feminism and sisterhood (as well as bromance). It gives us hilarious female characters that are just as flawed and human and sometimes even as dumb as their male counterparts. Neighbors 2 also teaches us the important lesson that, at the end of the day, there's one thing that can bring us all together: weed.
But most importantly, Sorority Rising is fucking hilarious. Yes, the writers were all white dudes—zero women and zero POC among them, although comedians Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci (who have associate producer credits) contributed to the screenplay with input from the female stars. The movie doesn’t exclude women from its slapstick, nor does it skimp out on the physically disgusting humor we’ve come to expect from a Rogen-Goldberg joint. In fact, if the scene of college gals hurling their used tampons at their neighbors is any indication, involving women seems to have taken their shit to the next level. (Bonus points for the multiple Minions gags, Awkwafina, and accommodating the female gaze with Zac Efron's shirtless body.)
It’s 2016. There’s no debate about whether or not women can be funny, but it’s refreshing that exploring feminism and sexism can be fertile ground for a mainstream comedy movie. Seeing topics like these, considered fringe issues for so long, normalized by some of the most high-profile names in comedy is pretty incredible—although there’s certainly room for conversation about the implications of a multinational corporation making bank off the feminist fight. Neighbors 2 is also a warning to the fedorafest of haters (hi, Ghostbusters trailer comment section) who can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea of a funny feminist movie. Boy(s), bye.