Pitch Perfect 2 Review - Off Pitch

Chad White, Shower Singer, Pitch Imperfect

Play it again, Fat Amy

Sequels are inevitable in today's cluttered movie market of unoriginal concepts targeting a specific sect of viewers. No longer do we need new intellectual properties; why would we when it's easier to fall back onto something familiar? Same sounding songs with simplistic beats made by the latest trending artist flood the airwaves as we give yet another pass to cutesy high pitched singers or wannabe thug rappers. Pitch Perfect 2 hits all of those notes, and more, as the sequel aims to take on the world. Anna Kendrick's Beca Mitchell leads the Barden Bellas -- consisting of Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Alexis Snapp, Hana Lee, and newcomers Chrisse Fit and Hailee Steinfeld -- on a path to graduation and life after a cappella. 

The characters quickly fall into rhythm, assuming you've seen the first movie. One leads the group while the others follow. The slutty one is slutty. The lesbian one likes the slutty one. The fat one makes self-deprecating jokes. The weird one says odd non sequiturs for a quick laugh from the audience. Nothing is surprising here. Even the beginning number follows a bland beat. A failed stunt by Fat Amy at some a cappella competition gets the Bellas barred from competing. With nothing else defining these girls (because singing is all they do), they begin to panic like a mother who loses her child in the store. All except for Beca who is making plans for post-graduation/Bella life with an internship at producer Keegan-Michael Key's office. She hides this from her friends well into the movie because who the heck knows why and it makes for unneeded tension among the group. She shirks many of her responsibilities (like setting up the playlist for the group) because this internship is taking up all of her time. 

This is where one of the many flaws of this film rears its ugly head. These characters are still in school but this movie seems to forget that. Taking place over the course of a full year, Pitch Perfect 2 is more of a road trip excursion rather than another musical jaunt with our favorite characters. It's clear they wanted to do more in the 115 minutes the movie ran. Setting changes rapidly from the school to Beca's internship to different venues including the world championships in somewhere Europe. Travel doesn't need any explanation but it’s treated as more of an unexplained cartoon-esque promenade from coast to coast as opposed to a movie set in the real world where real things matter. 

Picth Perfect 2 isn't terrible by any means but things need to be handled in a more caring manner. For instance, there are two girls that have apparently been in the group since the first movie but they're not named until the last act of this movie -- even the other Bellas don't know their names. Fat Amy gets more air time than most characters as she delves into becoming this series Mater (from Cars). She takes the main stage (when Beca is through whining about whatever); her jokes falling on her weight or sexual adventures. Men take a backseat save for Adam Devine's Bumper who gets characterization in the form of his love for Fat Amy. Skylar Astin, Ben Platt and the Treblemakers are there for jumping off points, often forgotten for minutes at a time. Once main characters, the Treblemakers sink into the voids of supporting voices for the movie's pivotal scenes. Astin only shows up when Beca needs him most (see the world championship and taking her to work once). Their relationship is worthless at this point. Why are they even together if they only talk to each other when the movie calls for it? Music is also an issue as mashups again take the main stage. The movie even makes fun of its reliance on using mixes of popular songs through Steinfeld's character that is mocked for writing original pieces. 

Should you watch Pitch Perfect 2?

I like coming back into a familiar world as much as the next person. However, this movie skips three years into the future, jumping over many needed developments. Relationships, schooling and more are just assumed to us. Sure, set piece songs are fun but -- for a film that harps on originality -- it falls into a trap of shallowness provided through a jumbled story and underdeveloped characters. The Bellas learn nothing over the course of the film nor does anyone else for that matter. Things just happen to characters as they sing their way through another year of a ca-mediocrity. Go see Pitch Perfect 2 if you’re interested for a quick laugh and not the staying power the last movie provided.

Notes:

  • As many problems I had with this movie, it has some of the best cameos in anything ever. Katey Sagal as Steinfeld’s mother is rarely used but she rocks every scene she’s in. Comedians Reggie WattsJohn HodgmanJason Jones, and Joe Lo Truglio literally made me squeal with glee (just ask the girl sitting next to me). David Cross’s Riff Off host was entertaining to say the least. Snoop Dogg is welcome singing Christmas carols. And a team of singing Green bay Packers led by Clay Matthews is one of the highlights of life itself.
  • A sequel is inevitable. Rebel Wilson is ready for a spinoff of sorts. Whatever happens, Fat Amy will prevail.
  • Bumper is a campus security guard after graduating years ago. He just can’t seem to let college life go. The same thing can be said about Chloe who failed a class three times just to stay in the Bellas. They peaked.
  • Elizabeth Banks directed and, although it was jumpy and scattered, the movie looked great.
  • Das Sound Machine knows music mashups. They made “Light Em Up” and “All I Do is Win” work perfectly. I didn't even mention their affinity to 90's hip hop.
  • If I hear “Cups” one more time I’m going to explode.