I really wanted to like Pitch Perfect 2. I wanted to love it, and the premiere did little to lower my expectations. Laurina from The Bachelor, unquestionably the best pseudo-feminist on Australian reality television in recent times, was there smashing the free cupcakes. How could it not be good?
The film once again follows the Bardon Bellas, three years on from their victory at the a cappella nationals. After an unfortunate incident (you know, the one in all the ads) at the President’s birthday event, the girls are banned from collegiate performing and their US-wide performing tour. They’re replaced by world champions DSM (Das Sound Machine) who are suitably awesome as the villains of the movie. The Bella’s must then go through various trials and tribulations to arrive at the a cappella World Championships in Denmark. The Treblemakers also make a reappearance, though their involvement in the film is hardly remarkable.
The main issue with this film is that it relies on the crutches of repetitive jokes that just aren’t funny. Many of these jokes are misogynistic and racist, with a few slut-shaming and fat-shaming jokes in there for good measure. This is especially disappointing considering the film is directed by a woman (Elizabeth Banks) and is dominated by a largely female cast. At one point they even bleeped out the word vagina. I mean…really? It seems to play into the age old feeling that the role of women in comedy is to be made fun of, or that to be seen as legitimately funny, they need to rely on being overtly sexual or grotesque. On this topic, the idea that Rebel Wilson’s character ‘Fat Amy’ could actually possess sexual confidence seems to be a hilarious concept to the writers of this movie. I’m unsure if Rebel Wilson actually felt comfortable with some of the jokes she had to portray, or whether that’s just her style of comedy.
This all being said, there are some significant positives. Supportive characters, especially those played by David Cross, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam DeVine and Elizabeth Banks are highlights despite their limited time on screen. The singing is still on point, though DSM’s songs were more of a stand out than their American counterparts. Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin’s relationship is actually believable and wonderfully free from unnecessary drama, and the movie manages to avoid some clichés. Key word being some.
The majority of the acting is great, although there isn’t much effort put into pushing some of the characters beyond the singular-dimension that was shown in the previous film. It also demonstrates that female characters in film are able to talk about and focus on things other than men, and can portray supportive and positive relationships.
The film achieves it’s aim of being a light-hearted, musically driven film, but sets itself back by relying on repetitive humour and placing limitations on characters.
Pitch Perfect 2: Maybe it's time to end this pitches.