'Neighbors 2' Director Blames His Film's Lack of Female Writers on "Writers Guild Rules"

"We didn’t have enough time to meet [the rules]," Nicholas Stoller said of the sequel, starring Chloe Grace Moretz.
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Nobody figured Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising as a feminist manifesto, but the lack of women writers did raise eyebrows. Writer-director Nicholas Stoller opened up to The Hollywood Reporter at the May 16 premiere about the criticism, "It all comes down to Writers Guild rules, and we didn't have enough time to meet them — we all had to write this really quickly. [And] I always bring in the cast for input. We worked really hard to make sure the final product would be something for everyone. The main thing is always to make sure the movie is honest with all of the characters."

The absence-of-female-writers criticism does not entirely hold up, however. Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci, who are credited as associate producers, were brought on to punch up the female voices in the film. "I talked to them a lot. They were there every day," says co-star Carla Gallo. Lund and Blasucci even make a cameo onscreen. "When we're at the tailgate they're supposed to be my sorority sisters," adds Gallo, who says she doesn't fault the film for its lack of female writers. Rather, she says, it's the whole comedy genre. "It is a bit of a boys' club, the comedy world in general, so we do need more female comedy writers. But I can't complain because they give me some incredible stuff to do."

If Lund and Blasucci didn't do the trick, the film's leading lady Rose Byrne was on hand. "We have Rose Byrne, who's a force of nature, who during the writing process if there's anything she's like, 'I don't know about that,' it changed," said co-star Ike Barinholtz.   

"They definitely consulted a lot of women, and my experience is there were definitely more women on set this time," adds Byrne. Her only criticism at the premiere was who's actually watching the movie and not distracted. "Watching a comedy is great with an audience, more so than anything else. I've been to comedy screenings with publicists and it's awful. They're all on their phones, literally. Why bother? It's depressing."

And while the critics have panned some of the jokes, Chloe Grace Moretz, for one, enjoyed making the film: "One of the funniest moments is when I go, 'What do you call a group of women who are fighting for what they want?' And one of the girls goes, 'A brothel!'"

A version of this story first appeared in the May 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.