Seth Rogen has another Neighbors movie coming out. And you can probably guess that it includes a lot of madcap hijinks just like the first movie did, which propelled that first Neighbors movie to a box office haul of $270 million – so it’s not entirely surprising that there is now a Neighbors 2.
But that’s the thing about comedy sequels: Usually they are just bigger and louder. But, as Rogen explains below, they weren’t sure they could make a funnier movie, but they did know they could put more thought into it. And the movie is funny, but this is a comedy with a few things on its mind… a quality not immediately evident from the trailers. (Rogen compares this to the pill you have to hide in a piece of cheese to make your dog eat it.)
Sexism, gay marriage, Black Lives Matter, Bill Cosby: all of these are topics that are, surprisingly, addressed in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, directed by the returning Nicholas Stoller and co-written by Rogen, longtime partner Evan Goldberg, Stoller, Andrew J. Cohen, and Brendan O’Brien. Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are trying to sell their house, but now a new sorority next door (led by Chloë Grace Moretz’s Shelby) threatens their sale. (And poor, poor Teddy, played by Zac Efron, is caught up in this whole mess again.) But the twist is we find ourselves sort of rooting for the sorority because their quest for independence from sexist fraternities is noble. And yet somehow this still all works as a comedy. It’s kind of remarkable. Ahead, Rogen explains how and why they wanted to pull this off and reveals just how nervous he was about a scene where “Cosby” is used as a verb.
Right after I interviewed you for Steve Jobs, I got on the elevator with the real Steve Wozniak.
Oh, that’s so funny. He’s the nicest guy in the entire world.
I think he thought it was weird when I yelled, “Oh, I just spoke to the person who played you!”
I’m sure he loved it. I just had lunch with him a few weeks ago.
Oh, you still keep in touch?
Totally. We became friends.
Neighbors 2 has a lot to say. I was not expecting this from a comedy sequel.
It does have a lot on its mind! We weren’t sure we’d be able to make a funnier movie, but what we were pretty sure of is we could put more thought into it than the first one. And I think we knew we could take the movie emotionally in new places – we could add new characters and stuff like that – but I feel a dangerous game people get into with comedy sequels is how do you make it bigger and funnier and grosser and raunchier? And we were like, instead of playing that game, let’s try to make it maybe a little smarter.