Monday, May 25, 2015

Syan Vs Movies: Pitch Perfect 2

The dirtier but funnier version of Glee is back, but is it as good as the first?  Beca (Anna Kendrick), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and the rest return as the Barden Bellas who are the reigning a capella nationals champions for the last three years, however, they have a disastrous accident occur during a huge performance and are stripped of their right to perform and will be disbanded unless they win the world championship.

The Bellas get the kiss-off from singing if they can't win

Along with getting ready for the world title, they gain a new member Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) who wants to become a songwriter, Beca works at her internship to plan for her future, and Fat Amy looks into her relationship with Bumper.

As it deserves, our main character Beca has the best subplot. Her work at a music production agency learning from a successful agent, played by Keegan-Michael Key (of Key & Peele fame), is the highlight of the film. I honestly would have liked to see more of the movie take place here as her boss has the funniest lines of the movie, as well as making great character development come to Beca by showing her that she can’t rely on only one thing in life to succeed.  She has settled too much into her forte of mash-ups, which though he admits are good, is not enough to make a career.

Emily, the newest Bella, is a newcomer freshman, mirroring Beca’s entrance in the first movie, and has a legacy to the Bella sorority group through her mother. The scenes with Emily and her mother, played by Katey Sagal, are some of the most awkward, yet most believable. Emily’s mother clings to her, holding her arm as she walks her to her college orientation and reflects on her time at Barden as one of the Bellas. Emily likes to sing and wants to join the Bellas, but her real passion is songwriting. She is interested in her original music more than doing covers or mash-ups.  This is the biggest source of her growth throughout the movie, and she gets the best development. In the beginning, she auditions nervously to join the Bellas, and then she gets to perform on a grand stage at the end. There are portions of her character that are just unbelievably naïve, such as choosing to sing one of her original songs instead of a song from the category she is assigned in a competition.

"No" is what they should have said to giving a major subplot to Fat Amy

Fat Amy has the weakest, and arguably most pointless, subplot of the movie. Her relationship with Bumper, and if she truly loves him or wants to continue having casual interactions.  Not to say Rebel Wilson is not funny in this movie, she certainly is as several points, but the Fat Amy character was definitely over-exposed in this movie. The first film kept her to the show-stealing crazy loon with her minimal focus, but here as one of the three principle leads, it takes away from the movie and feels tedious.  Her role as the funny one you want to see more of (but probably shouldn’t) is taken by Lilly and her crazy one-liners like “All my teeth come from other people” and “I sleep upside-down like a bat.”

Lilly is almost as quotable as Brittany from Glee

The two stand-out scenes of the movie are definitely in the performances at the Rip-Off Tournament and the World Championship.  The Rip-Off host played by David Crosby was a great guest appearance, as he came off as the rich, passionate crazed fanatic he meant to be.  The guest appearance of Green Bay Packers players Clay Matthews, David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, Josh Sitton, and T.J. Lang came off fantastically. The Packers have their opening performance go surprisingly well, singing against the other teams, then their second chance comes up and they don’t know any more songs. Exactly what you’d expect from an NFL team in a singing competition, they are horribly underprepared.

Clay brought the guns to a voice fight.

The final scene with the showdown between Das Sound Machine and the Bellas comes off well, with both teams putting on a great show for the championship. The only disappointment comes in the fact that the entire World Championship is really just America v Germany, playing on that old tired trope we have all seen.  We get glimpses of these other teams singing and it has a great feel to where you want to know what the Indian boy band group can do, you want to hear more of the amazing Spanish group, you want to know why the commentary team thinks the Koreans are so bad.  It’s a shame to see a World competition where the world is presented in so miniscule a scope.

Because why develop multiple teams and great singing when you can just do the WWII thing?

Altogether, you can do much worse in choosing a comedy to see at the theater, but Pitch Perfect 2 is choppy and doesn’t do enough with some of its members, while putting too much focus on others.  It still has plenty of laughs and some good musical numbers, so if you want a fun movie to kill a few hours, Pitch Perfect 2 fits the bill.

Short version:  Pitch Perfect 2 is fun, has good sound, but lacks a clear vision and gets jumbled up. It’d be best to hold off and rent it unless you were a huge fan of the first one.

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Look into other Syan Vs Movies reviews:  Tale of Princess KaguyaSan AndreasMad Max: Fury Road, and Ex Machina

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