*Originally published on Moviepilot.com*
*May contain major spoiler. Proceed with caution.*
In short: Is the sun blue? Is the sky green? Does Miley have edges?
If your answer to all of those things was “no”, then there you have it.
Yes, lovers of the Zoo. Pitch Perfect 2 was a let down in a myriad of ways, but before I even get to all of that, I should probably summarize the movie for you:
It’s been three years since the Barden Bellas (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson) became the first all-female group to win a national title. All seems well until a botched Lincoln Center performance for the president leads to a scandal that strips them of their performing duties, causing internal tension and strife. With the world championships on the horizon in Copenhagen, Denmark, the women must get their act together for their one and only shot at redemption
– Screen Room Kingston
At any rate, the film initially had loads of potential and with a bigger budget at its disposal and Elizabeth Banks making it to the director’s chair, it seemingly had all the pieces to be a success like its predecessor. That said, as Nick Offerman’s character paraphrased in 22 Jump Street (another rare comedic sequel done well), bigger budgets and trinkets don’t necessarily guarantee a success.
Basically, what I’m saying in not say round about words is that you should temper any and all expectations before watching this film.
So, without further ado, here are my reservations—good, bad, and “eh” about this movie. This review (and the Straight Outta Compton one I promised y’all) will be more condensed than my usual fanfare because college has once again started and I am crunched for time:
While this film struggled to reach the heights of its predecessor, there were some high points. For starters, most of the great characters from Pitch Perfect returned (save older Blonde and etc) and above all, this film boasted a number of great and random as hell cameos. Those cameos in question include the likes of Snoop Dog (and his Christmas album), Robin Roberts, Katey Sagal (as newcomer Emily’s mom), and Keegan-Michael Key.
Key in particular was a high point, especially as it appeared that he was about to commit first-degree murder while attempting to usher along Snoop’s Christmas album. He also leveled a humorous and familiar critique about Christmas music and how every-damn-body sings the same mother*cking 12 songs. And as someone who used to work retail and has an irrational hate for Christmas music now, I appreciated it and found it entirely funny
On top of that, I am still bummed about the conclusion of Key and Peele, so it was great to see Key again.
I hoped you enjoyed the good stuff because there’s a lot of bad stuff abound in Pitch Perfect 2.
And most of it had do with characters and the plot and divulged from there.
Starting with the plot, while the plot was in fact thin in the first film, the first film had enough off-the-wall characters, weird as sh*t shenanigans and pointedly and unabashedly offensive dialogue to save it.
This time around, those same things contribute to the film’s downfall. The plot—which was to beat everyone (including ultra intimidating, but talented Das Sound Machine) at Worlds so they can redeem themselves and their reputation and be allowed to continue as a group—is not only barely there but it was also woefully un-compelling.
Granted, I technically understood that not being allowed to continue would be devastating to Beca and her squad because of the sisterhood that they had built up…but that is only because of the first movie. The second movie did a very poor job of getting these new character motivations across.
The movie did a very poor job of getting character-anything across.
I was particularly annoyed in this regard, because all of the characters that made the first movie great were either missing, in the background (with absolutely not sh*t to do), or were involved in subplots that I frankly didn’t give a f*ck about.
Here are some examples:
*Begin minor spoilers*
1. The Fat Amy and Bumper subplot is extraneous at best and flat at worse.
Talk about things I didn’t give a sh*t about.
I’ve got my own problems with Rebel Wilson, but I do think she is exceedingly funny when she wants to be. In this movie, however, her comedic talents were shuttled off to a romantic subplot that was just all-around crappy, but above all, poorly constructed and executed.
To keep it short and sweet, Fat Amy and Bumper are each other’s booty calls for the shortest of minutes before Bumper decides that he wants their relationship to digi-volve. Fat Amy wants no parts in that as she is a “free spirit” and initially turns him down.
However, due to some type of random ass character development that we never see play out in the movie, she decides near the film’s climax and subsequent denouement that she is, in fact, in love with Bumper and most go off to win him back in extra ass, ‘80s fashion.
It would have been funny if it was properly fleshed out, but here it is out of place, boring, and makes absolutely no sense. And as a result, it falls flat.
And as a side-note, I am still convinced that Fat Amy and the German guy would have been a better set up for a romance than Fat Amy and Bumper. All of the signs pointed to that being a thing and it would have been a great nod to the first movie’s Spring break montage where Fat Amy was literally surrounded by hot men (which was an obvious middle finger to conventional beauty standards/expectations).
*End minor spoilers*
2. Beloved Supporting Characters Like Cynthia-Rose, Lilly, Stacie, and Gail are given next to nothing to do or are way flatter then their Pitch Perfect selves.
As I mentioned earlier, part of what made Pitch Perfect such a success was its strong bench of supporting characters with loads of personality and ticks, despite their short amount of screen time.
Well, if you can believe it, the characters got even less time to do anything, much less talk. In fact, most of these characters’ significant moments—with the exception of Gail (Elizabeth Banks)—happened during the team camp fire on their team building retreat from hell (which was lead by veteran Bella Aubrey [Anna Camp]) where they talked about futures that includes settling down with baes, getting jobs, and you know, typical adult sh*t.
The problem with Gail, however, was a bit more complicated. To expound, while Gail had about the same amount of screen time as she did in the first movie, her dialogue was just not funny.
Which brings me to number three: dialogue (for the entire movie)
3. The dialogue was sub-par compared to the first film.
The first movie boasted super offensive, but ON POINT dialogue whenever and wherever it could. In Pitch Perfect 2, Gail’s formerly pointed and witty dialogue misses the mark each and every time. Personally, I’d argue that there was minimal effort put in this time around, because each “pointed” line sounded like it was attempting to try and then stopped short and hit us with that “SIKE” before ultimately falling flat.
Gail wasn’t the only one with unfunny and dull dialogue either. Everyone suffered the wrath of bad dialogue. But the most notable example is Beca’s recurring dialogue with Das Machine Leader Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen).
The joke in this case was that Beca could not level an insult at the hyper-attractive a capella squadron leader and instead would begrudgingly compliment her in an insulting tone. Apparently, someone somewhere thought it would be funny but after the 41984732473992387th time it happened, I was just waiting for both of them to shut the f*ck up.
4. I could have done without Emily’s entire subplot.
So I feel like Pitch Perfect 2 initially was trying to pull a 22 Jump Street in that they were trying to recreate the conditions of the first movie and just gradually add to it. Granted, the plot with most of the squad being seniors complicated things, but I did think their decision to bring newcomer/freshman and legacy character Emily onboard was a good one.
Until it was executed, that is.
Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), being the antithesis of Beca in every way, (read: basically, she is cheerful as f*ck to the point that it was starting to get on my goddamn nerves) had some potential, but it was lost in translation due to the fact that literally everyone else on the squad was seniors and dealing with the great unknown that comes with graduating. Her plot revolving around literally “finding her voice” thus ended up being highly unnecessary and added to the erratic pacing of the film.
Like, if I could make could have made two major recommendations, it would have been to:
– Axe Emily’s plot and focus on the all the senior sh*t, especially Beca, Chloe, and Fat Amy having to come to terms with impending adulthood and/or failure.
– Have the Bellas and the Treblemakers team-up to take the musically superior and talented Das Sound Machine down.
The first alternative is fairly straightforward and would have provided a nice ending chapter for our favorite characters and a nice leave off point in case the masterminds behind Pitch Perfect wanted to bring in fresh faces for a potential third movie (which I wouldn’t be around for, but I digress).
The SECOND alternative—which I assumed was the obvious route, but it turned out to not be all that obvious due to the direction that the actual movie went in—would have changed the entire course of the movie and I would have been 100% here for it. Combining the two groups would have provided for some interesting hijinks and shenanigans, but above all, it would have allowed the film to play with gender dynamics and the potential conflicts in having the two leaders of these teams dating each other.
It might have been great movie.
5. The music was such a letdown.
And speaking of the Treblemakers, did anyone peep that their music and dancing was woefully sh*tty this time around?
Granted, they weren’t the only ones. The music for the film in general was just not great at all. Whereas the first film dared to push the bounds of its music and mash-ups and gave us great covers that included songs like Please Don’t Stop The Music, Price Tag, Don’t You (Forget About Me), Just The Way You Are and etc, this film played it boring AND safe. And that boredom and “safeness” came to its highest peak with the weak sauce-filled and concluding Bella performance at work that included the introduction of an “original” (I thought that was against the rules, but I digress) song that tried to spice things up by including Bellas from way back.
It was boring.
So, so boring.
And corny too.
Oddly enough, I covered everything in the good and bad categories. So…I don’t have much to say where “The Eh” is concerned.
In essence, I was expecting more from a cast and a creative time of this caliber. I was expecting 115 minutes of caustic, unapologetic wit and good ass music.
Instead, I got Pitch (Im)Perfect 2.
And while that sounds like a personal problem, there’s much more to it. I was a reluctant viewer when going in to see both films, so at the end of the day, the bar was set pretty low and this film still couldn’t reach it.
In addition to all that, the film may have been bigger and flashier because of its budget and stacked cameos, but it was emptier in the long run because there was nothing concrete to tie it all together.
No stand-out characters. No good plot. No good music.
It’s almost like Pitch Perfect 2 had no choice but to be all flash and no substance.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is the ultimate pitch slap.
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