Pitch Perfect was a big surprise. In the middle of my fatigue of Glee-like productions, I let a friend drag me to Pitch Perfect with little hope that I would enjoy it. I ended up loving it. It was funny, sarcastic, diverse, and full of entertaining musical performance. It’s packed with charm, and easily is one of the films of the past years that I truly had fun watching. So I wanted to love its sequel just as much, and unfortunately that wasn’t quite the case. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Pitch Perfect 2 still has the charm, but forced jokes, stereotypes, and a bare plot stop it from fulfilling its potential.
After a mishap during a recent performance (Fat Amy exposes herself in front an audience that included the President), the Barden Bellas are humiliated and lose their headlining tour. The only way they can earn back their privileges (and dignity) is by winning the acapella world championship, a difficult feat that an American team has yet to win. The upcoming competition isn’t the only thing on the Bellas’ minds. Graduation is around the corner, meaning they have to think about a future outside of acapella. Becca (Anna Kendrick) secretly takes on an internship at a music studio, not wanting the girls to think that she isn’t singularly focused on their group. All the while, they take in a new singer, Emily, a Barden Bella legacy played by Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld.
Even though it’s thinly-plotted, Pitch Perfect 2 still manages to entertain and earn more than enough legitimate laughs. The Barden Bellas’ archenemies are the German acapella group, Das Sound Machine, and the standoffs between them are hilarious, but even more entertaining is when they perform or aca-battle each other. Banks, in her directorial debut, does a good job landing those great comedic beats well. She knows she has a talented cast and lets them have it at.
However, the script leans more toward snide than witty, unlike the first film. Many jokes skirt the line between offensive and satirical, and I couldn’t help but be disappointed by how many offended me. One of the new Barden Bellas is Latina and literally everything she said was a stereotype, making cracks about some seriously heavy stuff that real people do deal with in certain parts of the world. None of her jokes landed, and you could feel the audience shift uncomfortably whenever she said something. Another thing that annoyed me was how Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) had to be the “gross” one. She was the source of the majority of the potty humor. I hate this recent trend which presumes that fat women are only funny when they’re being disgusting. We’ve see it with Melissa McCarthy’s recent comic performances, and I think both McCarthy and Rebel Wilson are talented enough to not need to make a poop joke to be funny.
Pitch Perfect 2 tries too hard to recapture what made the first so refreshing and fun. There is a part of me that thinks I shouldn’t be so critical of a Pitch Perfect film. Yet, I know a lot of people will be seeing this movie this weekend, and I think it’s fair game to point out that it has a ton of troubling flaws. Still, it’s an entertaining film and did make me laugh, but I was far from impressed and I know I’ll be thinking twice before seeing a third Pitch Perfect film. (Unless they can guarantee it will be as great and hilarious as Adam DeVine’s credits scene.)
Pitch Perfect 2 is now playing in theaters.