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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Dir: Elizabeth Banks
Written by: Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin.
Produced by: Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Kay Cannon, Max Handelman, Jeff Levine, Jason Moore, Jonathan Shore, Scott Niemeyer.
Currently Playing At: Aksarben Cinema, AMC Westroads 14, Marcus Twin Creek Cinema, AMC Star Council Bluffs 17, Regal Omaha Stadium 16.
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine, Keegan Michael-Key, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Katey Segal, Skylar Astin.
I pre-gamed before going to see PITCH PERFECT 2. It's not that the movie looked particularly atrocious, its just that I had a very compelling urge to pre-game. I went to the pizza place across the street, they were serving full pitchers of booze for less than 10 dollars. I picked that up and downed it all by myself. So what was probably a perfectly amusing movie became hilarious to me, I was going to have a good time regardless of what happened next. After that it turns out I had the theater to myself, so, I was that drunk weirdo going to an afternoon screening of PITCH PERFECT 2 all by my lonesome. That was a real perfect pitcher....2.
PITCH PERFECT 2 starts out with the Barden Bellas at a national competition where Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) rips her pants while midair in an incident termed "Muffgate." The Bellas are then barred from competing unless they can win an international competition against Das Sound Machine, the European champions. If the plot sounds thinly spread, that's because it is. Much of the goings on in PITCH PERFECT 2 are just set ups for the songs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The songs are very well done. They're mostly covers, but the renditions are catchy and energetic. I wondered occasionally whether or not the filmmakers were using autotune, but those instances were rare. The acting also works in the movie's favor. Anna Kendrick and Hailee Steinfeld are predictably adorable, but they're not all. Keegan Michael-Key steals the show as a potential production mentor for Kendrick's Becca Mitchell (is it ironic in a movie directed by and predominately starring women that the best performance comes from a man?)
Rebel Wilson is probably the biggest surprise of them all. The trailers would lead you to believe that she's that "its funny because she's fat" kind of character, and yeah, there's maybe a little of that. That's a small, small part of this movie. Fat Amy turns out to be a character with quite a bit of personality, and much of the humor comes from her quirks, just like everybody else has their quirks. She has an amusing romance with Bumper (Adam Devine), who seems to be hanging around this college years after he graduated solely for an opportunity to score with Fat Amy.
There are some cameos that I really liked, and others that I thought were a bit pointless. I really laughed at Jason Jones from the Daily Show, who showed up as part of a college age acapella group. David Cross was a bit groan-worthy in a scene where he played a contest host with a flamboyant Southern accent. Its not that I dislike David Cross, not at all, its just that the schtick seemed tired and predictable. Katey Segal is great as Hailee Steinfeld's overbearing mother, employing none of the intensity she showed on SONS OF ANARCHY (oh boy, wouldn't that have been an interesting movie?)
Let's talk about the film's use of stereotypes. It only comes up occasionally, but when it did, it bothered me. There is a black lesbian character, and for the most part she is perfectly likable and charming, but every here and there she drifts into that butch, horndog archetype that is used for so many lesbian characters. There is another Asian character, who again, is charming for the most part, but every now and then, she'll say something that will feed into the stereotype. It's a problem, but it isn't a deal-breaker.
There's not really much you can say about PITCH PERFECT 2. I wouldn't recommend seeing it in the theater, but its a fun rental, easily. The songs are fun, there are some jokes that are really funny, the plot is thin, its predictable, but its not especially grating. It is easily the best film directed by a woman so far this year (the only other two major studio productions helmed by women have been FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and HOT PURSUIT, so it doesn't have much in the way of competition).