The first Pitch Perfect movie was a surprising hit, to me. I didn’t think much of it when it was released, but people couldn’t stop raving about how hilarious they thought the movie was. And of course, who could escape Anna Kendrick singing “Cups (When I’m Gone)” on the radio… in the mall… in restaurants… I even did a cover way back when. (Oh to be so fresh out of college that I filmed that in my college apartment.) Anyway, let’s jump right into it, shall we? Our story begins with the Barden Bellas being suspended after Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) accidentally shows her lady bits to President Obama, Michelle Obama, and a large audience at the Kennedy Center. (This scene is in the trailer and is literally the opener, so I’m not spoiling anything for you there.) They lose their champion tour to German group Das Sound Machine (featuring YouTube star Flula!) and have to win “Worlds” in order to be reinstated. (Because every show/movie about show choir/a capella revolves around a big competition that is usually “regionals” but taking it to Copenhagen for that international flair is nice, too.) Also everyone is a senior, so there’s that. If you’re unfamiliar with the humor in Pitch Perfect movies, let me first warn you: The humor is often offensive. But the movies are fully aware of this and basically make fun of how offensive they are. Examples of running gags that are off-color in this movie are:
- Flo (Chrissie Fit), the undocumented (???) immigrant from Guatemala, who doesn’t care too much about if the Bellas get reinstated because of the horrors she endured
- Announcer John Smith (John Michael Higgins), who frequently makes extremely sexist comments about women, minorities, non-Americans, anyone really
Even though the humor was definitely NOT politically correct, I didn’t find it to be crude, but rather drawing attention to how wrong these jokes are, if that makes sense? I don’t like crude, off-color jokes, but within the script, the sexist joke ITSELF is the joke. It’s a meta-joke, if you will. And I appreciated that level of self-awareness a lot.
What was great is that there were so many of these jokes but they never felt too tired. I think the writers did a great job not milking a joke dry. For example, there is a running gag where Becca (Anna Kendrick) says she is intimidated and also sexually confused by Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) so our already adorably awkward Becca has some funny interactions with her. But they didn’t overdo it with this one. THEY CAME CLOSE but they didn’t. I was really surprised that Hailee Steinfeld was in this movie? It made sense once the shock wore off that they would introduce a freshman since, as I mentioned, everyone on the Bellas was graduating. She has her own little storyline and she fit in pretty well as far as being a weirdo. I didn’t love her romance subplot, even though it was pretty cute, and I thought that some elements of her character were sloppily done, even though they made sense in the scheme of the whole movie. I just thought that her character could have been written into the story more smoothly. Can I also say that Keegan Michael Key was amazing in this movie? I’m a huge huge fan of his Comedy Central show Key & Peele, so I was really excited that he would be joining the cast. All of his scenes were really funny because he is really great at playing off other people, reacting to them and eliciting certain reactions. I did miss Utkarsh Ambudkar, aka hot Indian guy from Pitch Perfect, because I really liked his character and what he brought to the cast and to the whole movie. There aren’t that may people of color in the Pitch Perfect movies. Some people take issue with the fact that the few that are in the movies are weirdos. Ester Dean — who is a real-life songwriter for artists like Rihanna — is both token black friend and butch lesbian trope, and well, Hana Mae Lee’s character says really unsettling things very quietly. But the nice thing about how Pitch Perfect does this is that EVERY CHARACTER IS TOTALLY WEIRD. Some are weirder than others. (Am I mad that the Asian girl is clearly waaaaaay weirder than everyone else? A little, it’s okay, I’m just salty because it hits too close to home for me.) But the point of the movies is that these kids are all really weird and that’s okay because they have each other. They might even make an occasional joke about how there’s just one black girl on the Bellas. Still, it doesn’t make it okay to drop their one South Asian guy and to replace him with a black beatboxer and a blond Asian who both have no lines at all. While I’m not the biggest fan of Rebel Wilson’s brand of humor, I think fans will really appreciate her own subplot in the movie. She gets a solo and drives a lot of the movie, whereas Anna Kendrick was the very clear star of the first movie. It seemed like the sequel kind of forgot that Anna Kendrick was the star of the first one, or maybe it just didn’t care. Part of Becca’s story is that she begins to detach from the Barden Bellas as she prepares to graduate but the rest of the girls are having a much harder time letting go. (How is Brittany Snow’s character still there if she was supposed to be a senior in the first movie? Because she has been intentionally failing classes for the past 3 years to put off graduation. Yep.) For comedy movies like this, I don’t think spoilers are necessary. Just know that Pitch Perfect 2 delivers all of the insane but hilarious personality that the first one did with its characters. There’s a really great sing-off scene (another classic show choir/a cappella movie/show trope) that features a great guest star. (Those of you who have been following the movie more closely probably know about this.) It was easily one of the highlights of the movie, during which I laughed out loud and frequently. And of course, it’s a movie that features a female ensemble cast that everyone enjoys.