“You have totally lost your harmony.”
Unlike just about every person I know, I was not a fan of the original Pitch Perfect. It’s not horrible, but it’s never more than an exposé to showcase catchy a capella ballads in a story that lacks real substance or purpose. Pitch Perfect 2 follows the exact same beat. The movie is no different really, although it’s definitely more convoluted, and the musical numbers are less memorable. This time around the Barden Bellas are competing worldwide. The stakes are higher and the risk/reward is greater, yet somehow the movie is not an improvement and chooses to remain a crummy copy of its predecessor. For a film about singing, it’s glaringly missing a voice. William Hung’s infamous first round audition for American Idol was more entertaining, and even had better choreography than this lackluster musical comedy.
Three years have passed since the last time we visited the Barden Bellas. And besides their ages and class standings, everything remains unchanged. Pitch Perfect 2 starts almost identically to the first movie. Back then the group was ridiculed and mocked for a puking incident mid performance, and this time around they stir controversy with what’s called “Muffgate.” That’s media lingo for “Fat Amy’s pants rip and her goods are out in the open during a routine for President Obama’s birthday.” From there the group is banned from future showcase performances altogether. But wait! Beca (Anna Kendrick) bets they can win the world championships despite no American team ever placing first. The script is a grab bag of opportunities to belt songs rather than to develop the characters or the values of teamwork and commitment.
I get that this is a simple-minded movie about musical performance. Nevertheless, it still needs a story, and the premise literally makes no sense. Why ban the Bellas from competing only to allow them to compete to get their status back? That’s as dumb of a catch-22 as you could possibly think up. Making matters worse is the nasty pileup of crisscrossing storylines. Once one hits the brakes everything crashes into one ugly mess. Beca hides an internship from her friends with no reason, and even makes her character revert to her freshman year self of indecisiveness. Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is a first year legacy Bella dreaming of being in the house. There’s a rival German group – depicted almost as insultingly as Ivan Drago – called Das Sound Machine. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) breaks up with her boyfriend and chases him down again. The Bellas go on a retreat where former member Aubrey (Anna Camp) now works. Pitch Perfect 2 is simply a mash-up of disjointed events rather than a cohesive story.
First time director Elizabeth Banks does sufficient work even though it’s entirely unsophisticated. The musical numbers have no direction due to the poor camera placement and the inability of the shot choices to guide our eyes along with the melodies. All of the shots are just random edits pieced together. What I hated was the script by Kay Cannon. This cast is good, and their talent is wasted on Cannon’s unfunny and sophomoric writing. Most of the jokes are more suitable for a R rated comedy, not something you want your pre-teen girls and boys to hear. One of the opening lines is that some girls are, “too ugly to be cheerleaders.” It’s often cruelly immature and misogynistic name-calling and stereotyping, referring to some women as tramps and foreigner’s accents sounding like diarrhea. This movie makes zero sense unless you have seen the first. Even then, after watching both for a combined total of nearly four hours, we get nothing original or engaging out of it besides a song about cups. Pitch Perfect 2 gains the Freshman 15 and then some, bloating itself on unengaging characters doing unfocused things in a completely unbalanced movie.
“Maybe I don’t have anything original to say.”
Rating: 2 out of 5