How Seth Rogen made the most feminist comedy of the year

Neighbours 2 Chloe Chuck ZlotnickChuck Zlotnick/Universal‘Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising.’

Hollywood studios have been taking a lot of body blows in the last few years.

The lack of diversity in their casting has made the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite a trending topic the last two years when Academy Award nominations went out.

And the portrayal of female characters in major movies has been under fire as more actresses are speaking out about the lack of roles that display power and authority.

Well, this weekend Hollywood will get a slight break with a new movie that showcases women of different ethnicities in positions of power.

Strangely enough, it comes from bro-comedy king Seth Rogen.

“Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising” is the sequel to the hit 2014 comedy, in which Rogen and Rose Byrne played a married couple with a newborn who are forced to live next to a fraternity (whose ringleader is Zac Efron). In “Neighbours 2,” a sorority has now moved in, but instead of using the same gags from the first movie (with females swapped in as the troublemakers), Rogen and his cowriter Evan Goldberg completely reoriented. The sequel is about what girls really want to do in college — and it’s not getting drunk at frat parties.

“Pretty quickly it was evident that five guys should not be the sole creative individuals behind this,” Rogen told Business Insider in a recent interview. “So we wanted to get the opinions of a lot of smart girls.”

Along with reaching out to their wives and female friends about how they should write the characters, they also hired actresses Maria Blasucci and Amanda Lund to shadow the film (they are listed as associate producers, but due to Writers Guild rules they aren’t credited as coscreenwriters). 

Chuck Zlotnich/Universal‘Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising.’

“It made a serious difference,” Goldberg said of Blasucci and Lund collaborating. “I think we can all agree that the movie just woudln’t have worked if we kept it a literal sausage party.”

One example Rogen and Goldberg used to prove how out-of-touch they were: For a sorority rush video, they wrote a bit in which the girls play paintball.

“Man, was that wrong,” Goldberg said.

With the help of Blasucci, Lund, and the female cast, the filmmakers created moments in which the girls dress up like Hillary Clinton or watch “The Fault in Our Stars.”

“Sometimes what male writers do to make females seem cool or to make it seem like a feminist thing is they just write them exactly like men,” Rogen said, “and it’s just wrong to pretend that a group of 18-year-old women do the exact same thing that a group of 18-year-old men do. They might do a lot of the same things, but there are also very different things that they would do. And we tried to get as much insight into that as humanly possible.”

The film’s main female lead, Chloë Grace Moretz, recalled what happened when an outline in the script had her character and friends talking in their dorm room about if they have had sex before.

“So the way we put it was, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve done everything but…’ And the boys had no idea that’s how girls our age would approach that subject,” Moretz told Business Insider. “So they kind of just let us go with it and where they wanted it to go. So it was really highly improv-driven.”

Though Moretz is proud that “Neighbours 2” is a more honest look at young women, it’s not time for Hollywood, or even Seth Rogen, to pat themselves on the backs just yet.

“This is so a rare case of the type of script you’ll be offered in this day and age,” she said.

“Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising” opens in theatres on Friday.

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