Pitch Perfect 2

Posted by Joel Copling on May 15, 2015

"Pitch Perfect" was something of a sleeper hit in 2012 for a pretty good reason: It was infectious. Like the a capella music with which its characters were infatuated, the thing snuck up from behind and charmed the pants off of whomever took to it. "Pitch Perfect 2" does its damnedest to corrode and corrupt that charm by transforming its characters into shrill caricatures who grate heavily on the nerves. That includes a returning Anna Kendrick as our lead protagonist, Beca, who spends the majority of the film trying to break away from the a capella group in which she has made her name. This is information relayed early on into the runtime, and we spend the rest of it wishing she would unceremoniously break ties.

Beca is now transforming into one-half the algorithm of the Professional Woman formula: She's secured an internship with a production company so that she can start to look forward, but she hasn't told anyone else in the Barden Bellas, even BFF Chloe (Brittany Snow). The group--also consisting of Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), who embarrasses herself and the group in the opening performance in the company of the President and First Lady, newbie Emily (Hailee Steinfeld, a bright spot), whose mother (Katey Sagal) was a Barden Bella in years past, Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean), whose status as a triple minority (a black, lesbian woman) is treated as amusing in itself for whatever reason, Lilly (Hana Mae Lee, another bright spot), whose whispered non-sequiturs about herself come not often enough and deserve an entire series of spin-offs, and others who are entirely interchangeable--is preparing for a competition on the world stage.

No one believes in them, and that eventually starts to rub off on the audience, too. Their competition, a Russian group called Das Sound Machine whose lead singer is played by Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, finds them an annoyance (There is an amusing running joke in which Beca attempts to insult them but can only compliment them). The commentators from the first film, played by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks (who also makes her feature directorial debut here), are also present for the requisite crass and bigoted humor. Mostly, though, this is a dreadful musical comedy whose priorities are all out of wack. Proof-positive: The results of a random, underground a capella competition are considered of more import than the outcome of the final bigger one (which is based on absolutely nothing but writerly obligation from this viewer's standpoint). "Pitch Perfect 2" is like a musical instrument at all the wrong levels.

Film Information

Anna Kendrick (Beca), Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy), Hailee Steinfeld (Emily), Brittany Snow (Chloe), Skylar Astin (Jesse), Adam DeVine (Bumper), Ben Platt (Benji), Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (Kommissar), Chrissie Fit (Flo), Ester Dean (Cynthia Rose), Hana Mae Lee (Lilly), Alexis Knapp (Stacie), John Michael Higgins (John), Elizabeth Banks (Gail), Katey Sagal (Katherine), Anna Camp (Aubrey), Flula Borg (Pieter Kramer).

Directed by Elizabeth Banks and written by Kay Cannon.

Rated PG-13 (innuendo, language).

115 minutes.

Released on May 15, 2015.