SPOILERS AHEAD: Because Lauren don’t care
A trend I’ve noticed in sequels lately is follow-up films taking all the elements that worked in the first movie and adding more of the same. However, there are problems that come with creating a sequel focused on “more.” Just because Usher sang about it doesn’t mean you should do it.
The sequel to 2012’s “Pitch Perfect” focuses on the Barden Bella’s quest to redeem themselves after Fat Amy accidentally flashes the Obamas. Through a loophole in their suspension, they add Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) to their ranks. Meanwhile, Beca (Anna Kendrick) starts an internship at a recording studio working under Keegan-Michael Key.
I’m not opposed to the use of cameos in movies, but an overreliance on them can hurt a movie rather than help it. The more funny and or famous actors stuffed into a film, the less attention given to story and characters.
The cameos underscored the movie’s heavy joke focus. More time was given to Keegan-Michael Key berating his hipster employee than to Beca’s experience at the studio; it went far in creating atmosphere, but neglected to give Beca an emotional journey.
Other than MORE cameos, the movie goes crazy emphasizing other elements: MORE Fat Amy, MORE Benji, MORE singing, MORE Lilly, MORE cheesy a capella announcers. The last inclusion is particularly offensive, as John and Gail’s main function in the sequel is to remind the audience of the stakes and comment on the Bellas’ failures as if those weren’t evident to the audience.
Because the movie is trying so hard to cram in as many funny, funny jokes as it can, the story lacks a focus, as well as a protagonist. I hated Beca in the first movie, but at the least that movie was clear in following her character arc. The sequel tries to give everyone a character arc and suffers for it. Who is this movie about? Is it about Beca’s foray into the music industry? Is it about Emily’s desire to be accepted by the other Bellas? Is it about Fat Amy’s relationship with Bumper? Is it about Chloe’s apprehension about leaving the Bellas? The movie’s answer is “yes” to all of the above, the multiple underdeveloped plot threads leading to a less-than-satisfying conclusion.
“Pitch Perfect 2” isn’t completely without merit. As always, the music is excellent, particularly German group Das Sound Machine’s high-tech mash-ups. Hailee Steinfeld is a nice addition. While weird, the riff-off in David Cross’ basement has some great moments, including performances by the Green Bay Packers and a bowdlerized version of “I Like Big Butts.”
In spite of these things, the sequel has plenty of other things to dislike. As I mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of Beca. Though she’s more tolerable (notice I didn’t say sympathetic) this time around, I had to endure multiple moments where other characters told her, “Oh honeybabysweetheart, you are the most wonderful and talented person I know!” Having other characters shill her doesn’t make her a likable character, movie!
Aside from Emily, another newcomer to the Bellas is Flo, an offensive caricature of a Guatemalan immigrant, whose main gag is commenting on the trivial nature of the other girls’ problems by trivializing her own traumatic upbringing.
Her “jokes”–along with John Smith’s brutally sexist comments–fell flat every time. In the theater, audience reaction varied between nervous laughter and dead silence. I’m not a politically correct individual; I’ve laughed at racist and sexist jokes in movies before. What that tells me, though, is that you can be funny while being offensive. Contrary to what this movie thinks, being offensive doesn’t make something automatically funny.
I can understand why the movie’s creators included more of what the fans loved from the previous film. If it were up to me, “Pitch Perfect” would be nothing but Benji and Cynthia Rose singing Pitbull covers. Unfortunately, by pandering to fan expectations, the creators made a less successful, less cohesive, less interesting story.
While not terrible, “Pitch Perfect” is nowhere near as awesome as the trailers promised. What a dis-aca-appointment.