While the rest of the world was waxing ecstatic over Pitch Perfect (2012), the out-of-nowhere hit based on college a capella groups, I generally hated it. Clocking in at two hours, here was a movie filled with predictable plotting, some egregiously boring music and a whole lot of Rebel Wilson discussing her various bodily functions. I never understood the appeal then, and I definitely don’t understand the appeal of it now with the release of Pitch Perfect 2, a film which takes every bad thing about the original and squeezes and wrenches it into something even worse. It’s longer, the music’s worse, the plotting is somehow even more inevitable — and there’s even more Rebel Wilson. The only amusing aspect about the film is that it somehow made $70 million, beating out the seemingly universally praised (to a dangerously hyperbolic extent) Mad Max: Fury Road and guaranteeing a decade’s worth of sequels that’ll most assuredly tailspin into the world of straight-to-DVD cinema.
This time around, the remaining members of the college a capella group the Barden Bellas have fallen on hard times. After an embarrassing performance has made them a laughing stock and lost them a lucrative nationwide tour to a group of German a capella singers (who are basically ripped off from Mike Meyers’ 20-year-old “Sprockets” sketches), their only choice is to buckle down and win an international a capella competition (while allowing this lazy movie to indulge in some xenophobic stereotyping). But since the ladies of the Barden Bellas — including their leader, Beca (Anna Kendrick) and loudmouthed Amy (Wilson) — are slowly drifting apart as they approach the end of college, things become more complicated. This means a lot of reconnecting and stuff about friendship and whatnot — it’s all a bunch of utilitarian nonsense as a means of filling in the movie’s running time.
Will they win? Will they all still be friends? Of course they will. I’m amazed that anyone would be so shameless as to actually write this drivel, let alone put their name on it. Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun, I suppose, but the film’s real selling point — the music — isn’t much to be excited about, unless you suffer from hearing loss or perhaps narcolepsy. I guess the music, in general, is inoffensive if you really enjoy the sound of beer commercials. But the musical numbers are flat, and the performances themselves are so compressed and autotuned that they’re totally devoid of personality. Not helping things is the cast, like the aforementioned Wilson, who might be a fine person in real life, but who’s allowed Hollywood to turn her into a slovenly, grotesque caricature of overweight people. Or Anna Kendrick’s complete lack of personality, or Hailee Steinfeld, whose career is officially depressing. Pitch Perfect 2 is exactly the kind of sequel people complain about when they talk about how bad sequels are. Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language.