Pitch Perfect 2

PLOT:

Three years after the events of the first film, the Barden Bellas are performing at the Kennedy Center for President Obama’s birthday. Now led by Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick), the Bellas – Beca, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow), Cynthia-Rose Adams (Ester Dean), Stacie Conrad (Alexis Knapp), Lilly Onakurama (Hana Mae Lee), Jessica (Kelley Jakle), Ashley (Shelley Regner), and the newest addition Flo (Chrissie Fit) – come out in sequined outfits performing “Timber”. Commentating the event once again are a cappella commentators John Smith (John Michael Higgins) and Gail Abernathy-McFadden-Feinberger (Elizabeth Banks). Fat Amy comes out hanging from a silk sheet singing “Wrecking Ball”, when she is suddenly swung upside down and her outfit rips. She spins around and gives the crowd a great view of “down under”. The incident becomes nationwide news, and the Bellas are called in to see the university’s dean (Gralen Bryant Banks). Due to “Muffgate”, the Bellas are suspended from performing in any a cappella showcase or competition. Their best bet of getting back in is to compete in an a capella world tournament. John and Gail laugh them off since no American team has ever won a world title.

Freshman Emily Junk (Hailee Steinfeld) walks to a orientation with her mother Katherine (Katey Sagal), who was an early member of the Bellas herself. Emily hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps, despite their recent troubles. She goes to the auditorium to see the Treblemakers, co-led by Beca’s boyfriend Jesse Swanson (Skylar Astin) and his best friend Benji Applebaum (Ben Platt), perform “Lollipop”. Emily meets Jesse and Benji outside, where Benji immediately develops a crush on Emily. He tries to talk to her, but only makes things between them increasingly awkward.

Beca secretly starts an internship at a recording studio. She sits in with other interns as the boss (Keegan-Michael Key) tells them that Snoop Dogg is going to record a Christmas album with them, but he is looking for something fresh to add over all the other Christmas albums put out.

Chloe registers the Bellas to compete for the Worlds in Copenhagen. Emily stops by their house to personally audition for them, and the ladies become interested after learning that Emily is a Legacy Bella. Emily performs a song that she wrote called “Flashlight”. The Bellas like her, despite some reservations, and they officially make her a Bella. They take Emily to a party of a cappella students. Beca finds Jesse, who is the only one that knows about Beca’s internship.

The Bellas go to a car show that they would have performed at before their suspension so that they can check out their replacements, Das Sound Machine, a German powerhouse. DSM performs an epic mash-up of “Uprising” and “Tsunami”. The group, led by Pieter Krämer (Flula Borg) and Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), approach the Bellas after the show to make condescending remarks, though Beca finds herself unable to retort. At work, Beca watches her boss as he records Snoop Dogg singing “Winter Wonderland”. The boss is frustrated at not finding anything good to add to this, until Beca steps in and volunteers to tweak with the beat player and then starts singing “Here Comes Santa Claus” alongside Snoop. The boss likes what he hears, and he asks Beca to show him whatever else she’s working on.

Beca goes back to the house to find the ladies pillow-fighting. She brings them a fancy invitation to the Bellas for an exclusive a cappella riff-off. The Bellas go to the house where the riff-off is held, and they find the Treblemakers there, along with DSM, the Tone Hangers, which now include ex-Trebles captain Bumper Allen (Adam Devine), and even the Green Bay Packers. Kommissar and Pieter taunt the Bellas again before the competition starts. The Bellas and DSM make it to the final round, but DSM wins when Emily flubs her song. The other Bellas are disappointed.

Beca’s boss is unimpressed with what she brings him since it’s mostly mash-ups. This, coupled with the Bellas’ recent embarrassments, hurts her confidence. Fat Amy goes into Beca’s room and tries to help boost it, admitting that she knows about the internship since she saw her badge after sneaking into her purse. Bumper brings Fat Amy into the bodega with a dinner he’s prepared, and he asks her to be his girlfriend since he wants to do more than just hook up. Fat Amy declines as she does not want to be tied down. She leaves Bumper disappointed. The Bellas go to put on a performance at a country club as a sort of practice before the Worlds. They braid their hair and do a medley of “Promises” and “Problem.” However, this performance fizzles after Cynthia-Rose’s hair gets singed by pyro.

Chloe decides to bring the ladies to a retreat center run by their old comrade Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp) in hopes of helping the Bellas get their sound back. Aubrey subjects them to several group exercises and activities. Beca becomes frustrated, prompting Chloe to ask her why she’s been acting odd lately. Fat Amy makes Beca admit to the internship, but she also adds that she’s the only one in the group that’s thinking of the future beyond being a Bella, unlike Chloe who didn’t graduate with Aubrey and stuck with the Bellas. They argue, and Beca walks away right into a net trap that pulls her up into the trees. She is cut down by Lilly.

At night, the ladies have chilled out and are roasting marshmallows. Beca says that after college, she won’t remember performing, but she’ll remember her Bella sisters. Chloe decides that she’ll finally graduate and teach children to sing…or exotic dancing. After regaining their harmony with “Cups”, Fat Amy starts to say what she’ll do later on, until she realizes that she is in love with Bumper. She runs off to her man, until she also gets caught in a trap. Fat Amy rides a paddle boat back to campus to find Bumper where they sing “We Belong” to each other, after which they start making out on the field. Beca helps Emily record her song with some of Beca’s beats. They show it to the boss, who feels the two of them have potential and is willing to work with them.

The Bellas graduate and head off to Copenhagen for the Worlds. As the show starts, the other competing teams sing their own renditions of “Any Way You Want It”. DSM goes up to do a grand medley of “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” and “All I Do Is Win”, complete with fire effects. The Bellas are up next, and they perform “Run the World (Girls)”, “Where Them Girls At”, and a special performance of Emily’s “Flashlight”, with a surprise appearance from other former Bellas, including Aubrey and Katherine. The audience waves the flashlights that Benji passed around, and they love the Bellas. Kommissar and Pieter shake their heads, knowing that they’ve been beaten. The Bellas become the new World Champions.

When the ladies get home, they give Emily a proper Bella initiation. The last step is to christen the house by sliding down the stairs. Fat Amy demonstrates and tumbles down the stairs hard, but she gets back up on her feet quickly. Emily then takes her turn.

In a mid-credits scene, Bumper performs “All of Me” on The Voice. He gets Blake Shelton to turn around until he starts acting weird and makes him turn back around. Bumper keeps performing his heart out and gets Blake to turn back around, along with Adam Levine, Pharrell, and Christina Aguilera. Bumper picks Christina to be his coach, and he goes to give her a hug.

REVIEW:

So, it was about this time last year that this city was being overrun by production crews. One was for Fantastic Four and the other was the just finished Pitch Perfect 2. Since this production overtook the city and streets and everything, I can’t help but feel a little biased, but then I remember that this is one of those rare films today that, in its own way, pushes music education, and I can’t be mad at it…or can I?

What is this about?

Hoping to be the first American group ever to win a prestigious international a cappella competition, the Barden Bellas return in this song-filled sequel and come up against a rival group of European singers who are also determined to win.

What did I like?

Pass the torch. In the years since Pitch Perfect, our Bellas have grown from freshman to seniors. While none of them really seem ready to strike out in the world, let alone willing, it is something that must be done. Of course, when they do this, someone has to fill their shoes. The film does a good job of letting them go out with a bang, as well as introduce the first of the new generation, if you will, in Hailee Steinfeld, who shows she has the talent and drive to keep this going both in and out of character.

Music. There seemed to be much more music in this film as opposed to its predecessor. Is that a good thing? I’m not so sure, especially given that there weren’t as many instantly recognizable tunes as before and it ended with an original piece. That being said, when the performances are happening, be they from the Bellas, Treble Makers, the German group, or even the Green Bay Packers, you can’t look away. I know that in the last performance, I nearly stood up and clapped when the “old” Bellas joined them on stage. It was a great moment, especially at that point in the plot and the song lent itself to that very well.

Now you know. Anna Kendrick’s character was so gung-ho about her “talent” for mixing songs in the last film and she thought she was could skip college and go straight to a career doing so. As I said in my review of the last film, that isn’t music. Furthering my point, Becca gets told by her boss that “any kid with an ear and some equipment can do what you do.” Sounds harsh, I know, but it is true. Mixing songs together isn’t music, and someone needed to tell her!

Germans. Here in the US, whenever we need a foreign villain, that isn’t going to destroy the world, we tend to make them German (pending the era). Nothing wrong with that, just an observation. This German group, whose name totally escapes me at the moment, is like a machine. They sing and perform with military precision and it is no wonder they are considered one of the world’s best. You can’t help but be in awe of their talent and physical superiority. A perfect foil for our Bellas.

What didn’t I like?

Sequelitis. If there is one thing I can say about this picture, it is that it doesn’t suffer from sequelitis, which is repeating the same film all over again. While there are some places that can be said to be copied, for the most part, this is a picture with its own plot. However, I do take issue with this being the second time the Bellas have had a disgrace on the national stage. Couldn’t there have been a better way to get them to compete on the international level than to go through all that? Not to mention using Fat Amy for that stunt was questionable in the first place.

Announcers. On their own, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are actually two really funny people. Put them together and the sparks fly. However, this script was not written very well, as all of their jokes are just unfunny, racist, or sexist. I appreciate their trying to get audiences to lighten up a bit.

Catalina she ain’t! Every chance they get, we are forced to suffer some sort of joke from the token Latina of the group, played by Chrissie Fit. I wouldn’t have a problem with her, except for the fact she was really playing up the illegal immigrant angle, which was done much better by Catalina from My Name is Earl. This chick doesn’t measure up and took away screen time from what should have been more randomosity from Hanna Mae Lee’s character.

My initial bias against Pitch Perfect 2 quickly went out the window and I was able to enjoy this film for what it was. A musical comedy meant for fans of the first film, but also aimed at bringing in some new blood. I do have some issues with the film, but for the most part, I found this to be an enjoyable time. Did it need to be made? Probably not. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! The last number and the underground riff-off sequences, as well as the performance by Key (from Key & Peele) is worth the price of admission. Check it out!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Pitch Perfect 2”

  1. […] My reviews of movies I catch via Netflix, in theaters, TV, or my own DVD collection. « Pitch Perfect 2 […]

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