Pitch Perfect 2, 2015.
Directed by Elizabeth Banks.
Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Elizabeth Banks and Katey Sagal.
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.
Pitch Perfect 2‘s opening gag involves Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) a cappella stuntwork gone wrong when she winds up suspended in midair, clothes ripping, and slowly rotating towards the camera to display some genitalia in what might just be the most embarrassing wardrobe malfunction of all time. The problem is that the particular joke isn’t very funny, relying on the fact that Rebel Wilson is overweight to evoke a few cheap laughs, which is a shame because she is a genuinely funny comedic actress who doesn’t need to rely on stooping to that level, but for whatever reason that’s where the writers and director Elizabeth Banks go far too often. Maybe it’s because Rebel Wilson crushes it every time, but studios should recognize she is capable of more.
It’s not that that kind of humor is bothersome or offensive, but that it feels counterproductive to the overall theme and message Pitch Perfect promotes; a film mostly focused on women that should feel empowering despite its shenanigans. Is there really a reason to name the character Fat Amy? No, it’s just dumb lowbrow humor that could be exchanged for giving the character better dialogue and jokes.
My gripes just don’t stem from Fat Amy either; this is a movie filled with stereotypes instead of characters, but lacking in earnest with its diversity. Instead it feels like a quota being met just so the movie can label itself as diverse, when in reality only Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) and the group’s newcomer played by Hailee Steinfeld) eat up the screen time. Rebel Wilson also has a supporting plot which is a nice change of pace from fat jokes. Everyone else just fades into the background, only speaking when it’s their turn to make a quirky quip that is usually grounded in their ethnicity. They may as well not even be in the movie.
Basically, Pitch Perfect 2 also feels like a disjointed mess, switching from plot point to plot point without ever feeling connected as a whole. The movie is simultaneously about an international a cappella competition, moving on from the group after graduation, bringing in a new character to probably stage a sequel, setting up love interests, music production internships, and so much more that all focus is lost. This also results in a 115 minute movie where you feel every minute and become restless a little past the halfway mark.
With that said, Pitch Perfect 2 does have a smart side to it that makes for some really funny scenes. Even with the plot out of tune the movie is laugh out loud funny at times, whether it be from unexpected cameos, satirical commentary on the music industry, or the wonderfully performed and choreographed a cappella sequences themselves. Most importantly, the movie has Germans giving a cappella renditions of Muse and Fall Out Boy, which alone warrants at least one star for this review.
Even though the material the actors are given isn’t always gold (there are also diarrhea and fart jokes), the camaraderie between each group of vocalists is enough to coast off of and mitigate the shortcomings into a surprisingly enjoyable comedy. Pitch Perfect 2 is yet another comedy sequel that probably doesn’t need to exist, but at least it’s not outright terrible. With a little refinement to the lowbrow humor and more of an edge on poking fun at the music industry you could probably make a Pitch Perfect film that hits all of the right notes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook