Thursday, November 16, 2017

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The music; the second half
Cons: More cringes than laughs, especially in the first half.
The Bottom Line:
More A Cappella
Mixed with jokes that make me cringe
Mostly mindless film

More A Capella Antics

Sometimes, I have a short memory.  When I watched Pitch Perfect a couple of years back, I wasn’t as impressed as I hoped I would be, so I had decided to give the sequel a pass.  But with the third coming out, I stumbled on the second on TV recently, so I recorded it.  Watching Pitch Perfect 2, I remember my complaints with the original.  Yet, somehow, I found myself drawn in by the end.

As this movie opens, we join the Barden Bellas on a night of great triumph.  They are performing at the Kennedy Center for the President as part of their celebration tour for their third national A Capella title.  However, when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is lowered down from the ceiling, something goes horribly wrong, and the group is embarrassed.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of their embarrassment.  They are forbidden to perform any more.  They can’t even hold any auditions to recruit new members.  Their only hope is to win an international competition they are automatically entered into because they are the current U.S. college champs.  But no team from the United States has ever won.  Can the Bellas do it?  Or will this event mark their swan song?

So I know this is a light comedy, but I do have to get one complaint out of the way first.  Just about everyone we’ve met in the first movie is still here in college, which is fine, but the group is all now seniors and they’ve recruited no new members?  And they are worried about the group continuing on?  Maybe you should have some younger members already.  Just saying.  Oh, they do pick up one new member thanks to a loophole, but is that really going to be enough to keep the group going after everyone graduates?

Okay, on to some of my more serious complaints.  The first half of the movie consists of the characters, especially Fat Amy, making fools of themselves.  Since I don’t like that kind of humor, it is painful to watch.  And yes, some of it gets crude at times.  And don’t get me started on the commentators of the A Cappella events.  The movie would be so much better without John Michel Higgins and Elizabeth Banks’s supporting characters at all.

Somewhere along the line, the tone of the movie shifts, and I started to like it.  It happens as we start to get to know the characters again and are actually given things and people to root for.  If they’d made the characters more human from the beginning, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

The plot?  It’s nothing too surprising, to be honest.  But this is a case where I don’t mind too much since the movie never pretended to be anything too original.  It’s just a light, mindless comedy, which is all it is wanting to be.

And yes, there’s plenty of A Cappella music, which is another draw for me.  Even when the songs are a style I normally don’t like, I still enjoyed listening to it because of the harmonies.  We get cameos (and I do mean cameos) by a couple of real A Cappella groups in this movie, including super group Pentatonix.  And yes, those really were Green Bay Packers doing their own singing in one scene.

So far, I’ve only managed to mention actors and characters I’m not a fan of.  (Rebel Wilson’s characters always grate on me.  I’m ready for her to pick a different character to play.)  Much of the action does still center around Anna Kendrick’s Beca, who gets a music internship in this movie that adds a nice sub-plot to things.  Most of the ladies in the Bellas only get a scene or two to truly stand out, but they make the most of them, and these supporting players get some of the funnier moments in the film, too.

While Pitch Perfect 2 will never be one of my favorite films, I’m ultimate glad I watched it.  I just wish the franchise found a better way to make us laugh for the entire length of the film.

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