The Bellas find their comedic mojo again in "Pitch Perfect 2"
"They hate us!"
Unfortunately, after an unthinkable mishap - while performing at a prestigious Washington D.C. event - “they hate us” becomes the immediate public sentiment of the previously-beloved Barden Bellas.
Soon after, this talented and eclectic group of college a cappella singers find themselves banned from touring as well, and life has suddenly messed with their collective vocal mojo.
Fortunately for the movie-going audience, the entire cast of Bellas is back on screen for 1 hour and 55 minutes, and they treat us with a very funny - although sometimes meandering - movie.
The sequel’s strengths lie with the strongly-written jokes and the comedic chemistry of the leads and supporting players alike.
Writers Kay Cannon and Mickey Rapkin offer razor sharp wisecracks and one-liners for the Bellas to grab and run. (On the other hand, perhaps many of the jokes are improv, but it’s difficult to discern.)
Either way, the film works.
Much of the interplay between the co-eds - especially with Rebel Wilson, Chrissie Fit, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, and Anna Kendrick - mashes into hilarious gold.
These characters strike instant likability chords and fall into playful bits and gags with one another.
Although at times, the comedy descends into racial and sexual stereotypes, the politically incorrect humor feels lighter with girls’ good camaraderie and strong belief in their individual identities.
When a heavy-set woman (Wilson) calling herself, Fat Amy, politically incorrectness rules the day in this film.
Leave your sensitivities at the theatre door.
"Playing nice" did not make the movie’s final cut when a television commentator (John Michael Higgins) casually mentions a cappella singers are “too ugly to be teenagers” and they are women so “you’ll be pregnant soon.”
Director Elizabeth Banks and the producers made smart choices by including veteran comedic actors like Higgins, David Cross, and Keegan-Michael Key in bit roles which add to the romp of the picture.
Lazy casting may have inserted any pedestrian actor to simply fill some spots, but Higgins, Cross, Key, and Banks herself deliver some of the biggest moments.
Although there is no shortage of punchlines, the overall story arc plays terribly predictable, and key plot points just fall flat or disappear entirely.
Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) plays a new fresh-faced Bella, but her “I’m so excited to be here” act wears painfully thin after a few minutes, and her desire to be blend into the group feels like the most nauseating Disney channel storyline.
Beca (Kendrick) wants to producer her own music, Fat Amy’s relationship rides through ups and downs and the Bellas desperately try to find their sound again.
These are all tedious and uninteresting distractions to simply include filler, but thankfully, the overflow of humor make “Pitch Perfect 2” a very good comedy.
Bellas, we don’t hate you.
Quite the opposite, in fact. (3/4 stars)
Image credits: Universal Pictures