Your enjoyment of Pitch Perfect 2 will be directly correlated to your willingness to endure acapella puns. That is, it’s only acappealing to some. Still with me? Let’s continue. In so much as this Pitch Perfect silliness could be confused with the cloying high school sugar rush that is Glee, the two share poppy musical stylings but are dished up with distinctly different flavors: irritating and irreverent. I’ll let you suss out which is which.
A toe-tapping, shit-eating grin affair, Pitch Perfect 2 does hit many of the same notes as its predecessor – what with a disgraced acapella group forced to prove their worth 2 da haters – but is nonetheless a pleasing foray into an acappeasing (whoops, I did it again) land of tongue-in-cheek witticisms and big, brash feminism. After all, isn’t that why we’re here?
Three years on from the events of the film that started it all, The Bellas are all now seniors at fictional Barden University – some by the mercy of super-super-seniordom – having claimed the national championship for their soundhole sing-alongs three years in a row. Bestowed with a kind of fame and fortune that acapella groups can only achieve in the movies, The Bellas are tasked with performing for President Obama’s birthday. Because in this Hollywood world of fantasy, not only would the President endure acapella, he’ll do it for his goddamn birthday. Give me a cake with Marilyn Monroe any day. The event takes a turn for the worse when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) experiences a wardrobe malfunction 28-inches south of Janet Jackson’s fated Superbowl reveal.
Outraged by their high-flying snatch showcase, Bardem University bans The Bellas from holding auditions. Worse yet, the national board of acapella review – the same scrumptiously tasteless commentator duo from the last film – rips them from their tour and bans them from national competition. A silver lining comes in the form of this year’s World Championships, which their previous cycle of acacomplishments entitle them to compete in. The foil: no American team has ever won worlds, and their competition – Eurotrashy German supergroup, Das Sound Machine – is as unstoppable a force as Stomp circa 1999.
The film plops Anna Kendrick’s Beca in the midst of a subplot involving a record label (headed up by the always fantastic Keegan-Michael Key) and her search for unique creative expression. After all, this is 2015. No one wants mash-ups anymore. The other involves Bella newcomer Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) a legacy with a penchant for original songs. During a freestyle battle (…hosted by an effeminate David Cross) Emily busts into an original tune to the hiss of the crowd. SIS IZ COVAHS ONLY, SISTAH. They’re promptly booed. Beca and Emily’s traveling pants become a sisterhood you can see a measure away and yet, their eventually team-up is Beyonce-level bedazzling. I guess I’m a sucker for predictable pop songs?
Behind the camera, Elizabeth Banks proves that she’s got some spitfire to her spunk, keeping things zipping along without ever stopping long enough for us to question how ludicrous and stupid everything actually is. Because it is. It really, really is. Her directorial debut proves her eye for glitzy, dressed-up comedy but also for big numbers. If someone can direct a dance sequence, why not a superhero movie? They’re essentially the same thing right? (Cue a chorus of boos across the internet.) I officially offer up Banks to direct Iron Man 5: Iron (or whatever.)
And let us not forget Rebel Wilson who’s featured in larger capacity here than before and praise be to Banks and screenwriter Kay Cannon for recognizing the comic giant resting in her. Wilson is a jello shot full of fireball, wise-cracking, mad-dogging and throwing herself into the ring in any and all situations. A courtship with Adam DeVine gives her a chance to slip into the spotlight that exhibits her fierce ability to take command of the screen, even under auspice circumstances. Further, her physical comedy reminds one of Melissa McCarthy except…funny.
When all the solos has been spilled, the bass lines and trembly whimpers intoned and the proverbial dirt soiled with the vocal blood of defeated acapelists, Pitch Perfect 2 finishes strong and knows how to quit. Though overlong in spots, recklessly goofball in others and often just as dumb as it is clever, this girly-but-not-girly acapart two has a bunch of screws loose but their screws I’m willing to forego. Like John Michael Higgins’ character’s incessant (and ironically hilarious) misogyny, you’ll be appalled but also laughing into your fist.