Time to Remember
The first Pitch Perfect was a beautiful thing. Underdogs overcoming adversity, catchy acapella covers of radio hits old and new, breakout performances (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson), and a complete lack of cynicism that was refreshing and charming. I was surprised at how much I loved it, having fell victem from Glee fatigue (the musical TV show was in its third season and had lost most of its charm for me at that point.). I was not the only one taken by this film. It became a sleeper hit and spawned a catchy radio hit in Cups (which I initially loved, but thanks to excessive radio play, I now call it Dead Horse).
So of course, we are subjected to a sequel that evidently no one else would direct and so they elicited the un-tested skills of actress/producer Elizabeth Banks. Why??? That is my biggest question. Why, Hollywood, why can’t you leave well enough alone? Of course I know the answer- the cold hard cynical truth is money, or at least the idea of being able to wring more of that green stuff out of a successful flick by churning out a sequel. What the H-wood suits don’t get (or give two shits about) is that in trying to cash in on a beloved movie without an iota of creativity or the basic semblance of plot progression, you sully the memories of said movie, leaving the soul crushing residue imprinted on your brain. Okay, I may be a little bitter, but I feel like this movie effectively killed my inner 13-year-old girl. (Yes, it is sad that I had an inner 13 year old girl, but my love of the original movie as well as movies like Mean Girls and Legally Blonde proved her existence. Not to mention Frozen. Sigh. Head held in shame.)
Pitch Perfect 2 sees the songbirds at the top of their game, performing for the POTUS and FLOTUS. In a moment that should have given me chills (seeing my beloved Bellas) I felt…nothing. Hmm. Weird. Okay, give it a moment. Then the big finish of the number culminates in the wardrobe malfunction to beat all wardrobe malfunctions, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) flashes her nethers hanging from silk panels whilst performing Wrecking Ball. The resulting Muff-Gate bars the Bellas from competing in the states, forcing them to redeem themselves on the world stage of Aca-competitions. Their Teutonic rivals are a fetish clad group (led by a Brigitte Nielson lookalike) that have virtually no personality but do have a talent for rapping and beat-boxing. They are very much like Glees’ Vocal Adrenaline, minus the stellar choreography or charismatic leadership of Jonathan Groff.
Most all of the original Bellas return with a few unnecessary new additions (there are two girls that are so interchangeable and characterless that the other Bellas don’t even seem to know their names!). The newest addition is the freshman legacy member played by Hailee Steinfeld whose only reason for existing is to introduce the Cups wannabe – a song her character wrote and insists on singing every possible moment. Of course, the song is lovely and the movie builds towards using it for its only bit of heartfelt redemption, but let’s call a spade a spade: Breakout single=money!
Sure, the movie has some funny lines and the finale did give me goosebumps as the girls "found their harmony" and realized less is more. Too bad that wasn’t the theme throughout this sad re-tread with overproduced numbers that tried too hard. Unfortunately, this is a movie that will play better in clips on YouTube, singling out the great moments and weeding out the …more.
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