It’s hard enough to release a successful comedy movie, but it’s even more of an uphill battle creating a follow-up that’s equally impressive or even better. That’s the challenge that faced Neighbors 2: Sorority Row, the sequel to the 2014 hit that followed Seth Rogen’s Mac Radner and Rose Byrne’s Kelly Radner dealing with an unruly frat house next door to them. Naturally, this meant they needed to come up with something fresh for moviegoers, but that also involved considering some not-so-great ideas first.
While going over what pitfalls Neighbors 2 tried to avoid, director Nicholas Stoller told EW about some particularly uninspired stories that in the script at one point, including one that basically leaded to the first movie being repeated. He said:
Every iteration of this script existed at some point. There was a version where another frat moved in. There was a version where the sorority was there and then got kicked out, and then a frat took over and it was even worse. We flirted with a version where it was an older couple, a swinger couple. Terrible ideas! They’re not in the movie for a reason. We had a version of the movie that we table-read with, that was basically [Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne] trying to prevent the first movie from happening, trying to placate the sorority. Which made it boring, because nothing’s happening, they’re never fighting.
Aside from the part about the swingers couple (which just sounds bizarre), Stoller’s right. None of these stories sounded particularly enticing. Comedy sequels have always had a hard time finding the same amount of success as the first movies, and often times they’re critically panned, most recently demonstrated by Zoolander 2. All of the above ideas would have almost guaranteed Neighbors 2 the same fate.
Nicholas Stoller also touched on other tidbits comedy sequels should consider, which, frankly, could apply to certain blockbusters from other genres. Among them were not trying to make the sequel "bigger," making the story feel different while retaining the same themes and not relying on "fan service," namely with references to the first movie. Stellar also mentioned they took Toy Story into account by having Neighbors 2’s theme be about the next stage of your life.
In Neighbors 2, Mac and Kelly are expecting their second child and are preparing to move out of their house. Unfortunately for them, the new Kappa Kappa Nu sorority, led by Chloë Grace Moretz’s Shelby, have moved in where the Delta Psi Beta fraternity formerly was, i.e. right next door! Partying much harder than their predecessors, the sorority will give Mac and Kelly’s life so much hell that they’ll try to get the college women away from their block. To drive them out, they’ll enlist the help of Zac Efron’s Teddy Sanders, the former Delta Psi Beta leader who gave them trouble in the first movie.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Row hits theaters on May 20.