Pitch Perfect 2 movie review: out of tune

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Pitch Perfect 2 yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Some sweet sisterhood and truly fantastic musical performances get dragged down by awkward, lazy, embarrassing attempts at humor.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): not the biggest fan of the first film
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

The wittiest bit in Pitch Perfect 2 comes literally as the film opens, with the podcasting musical commentators played by Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I) and John Michael Higgins (A Million Ways to Die in the West) a cappella-ing the Universal fanfare. And then it goes downhill from there… at least as a comedy. Competitive a-cappella all-girl singing group the Barden (University) Bellas are back for more of the same they gave us in the first film: some sweet sisterhood engaging in “proud female tradition” via truly fantastic musical performances, all of this good stuff dragged down by awkward attempts at humor that lazily trot out embarrassing ethnic stereotypes, gendered shaming that is inexcusable in a movie all about women (adult female human beings have pubic hair; deal with it), and fat “jokes” that are not rendered “okay” because the actress dishing them out is fat herself. (Someone please get Rebel Wilson [Pain and Gain] a script that does not focus on her body.)

This time, the Bellas are getting ready for an international competition that no American team has ever won, going up against a German group that has become their nemesis. (Quick, write down the first couple of hackneyed clichés about Germans that spring to mind; that’s what returning screenwriter Kay Cannon did in creating “Das Sound Machine.”) No one onscreen seems comfortable with grossout humor, and new-to-the-series director Banks appears to agree with such cringe-inducing lines of dialogue accompanying it as “Sorry, that was crass, wasn’t it?” and “You know that this sets women back like 30 years?” because it all falls flat even grading on the grossout curve. If only the movie trusted in itself enough to focus more on things like the musical mentoring team-up of Anna Kendrick’s (The Last Five Years) graduating senior and Hailee Steinfeld’s (Begin Again) new freshman Bella, which isn’t anything we’ve seen onscreen before, or on the character comedy between Kendrick and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as DSM’s leader. They have wonderful comic chemistry that could have used some more indulging.

see also:
Pitch Perfect (review)
Pitch Perfect 3 movie review: pitch, please…

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Pitch Perfect 2 for its representation of girls and women.

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Sun, May 17, 2015 12:35am

I was so not into the first film. I wanted to like it, but found it unfunny and gross. Still, I do give the film props for being original, kind of diverse, and centred on women.

Sun, May 17, 2015 1:13am

I agree about the ethnic stereotyping, the often unfunny attempts at humor, and the missed opportunities to explore some interesting relationships. And some of the secondary characters didn’t get to do much more than play to type. Still, I generally enjoyed the film. The performances were truly well done; the cameos were great (especially the ones at the secret a cappella party/competition, and some notable real-life a cappella groups at the end); and the filmmakers showed a real appreciation for some insider a cappella issues as well as for the general camaraderie within the community — among competing groups (Das Sound Machine notwithstanding) and among members past and present.

reply to  Bluejay
Mon, May 18, 2015 1:35pm

I have some MAJOR ISSUES with the ethnic stereotyping.
What really bothers me is that THIS MOVIE ACTUALLY TOPPED THE BOX OFFICE, meaning that the target audience (females)
We’re raising another generations of Ann Coulters,Sarah Palins,and Paula Deens.
Any women that actually enjoy ALL aspects of this excuse for a comedy deserve to end barefoot in the kitchen.
C’mon, haters. Bring it……RIGHT NOW!!

reply to  JEREMY
Mon, May 18, 2015 1:46pm

I can’t tell if you’re being serious or if you’re trolling me. *shrug*

I have problems with the argument “This movie topped the box office, therefore the audience accepted everything in it.” How would the audience know, before watching it, that there would be ethnic stereotyping? And how do you know that they enjoyed that part of it when they saw it?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  JEREMY
Mon, May 18, 2015 6:18pm

the target audience (females) ACTUALLY ACCEPT THIS!!!

Well, no. Not necessarily. And the word you’re looking for to describe human beings who are not men is “women.” Not “females.”

deserve to end barefoot in the kitchen.

You’re an ass.