I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Pitch Perfect 2 is “pitch perfect”, but the quality of the music and the catchy tunes make it entertaining and fun. Certainly, the hundreds of spirited young girls in the audience tonight were highly approving judging by their frequent laughter and grooving with the songs. It is a little too sweet and girly in places for my taste—almost embarrassingly so—but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.
If you saw the first Pitch Perfect, this will be familiar to you in that an all-female a cappella singing group keeps winning prizes for their performances despite all the doubts of others. The message is that if you have talent—despite public mistakes, have faith in yourself enough to flaunt it. This “2” is a bit like The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is to the first one—more of the same, but still entertaining.
The writers (Kay Cannon, screenplay; Mickey Rapkin, novel) and Director Elizabeth Banks make sincere attempts to address current issues and controversies about race, gender, and sexual orientation by making jokes about them, but they are more often misses than hits. Their most successful ones are spoken by Flo (Chrissie Fit), a Latina who humorously points out tragedies and close calls in her life that were so much worse than the situations other characters are dithering about at the time. When someone says, “Is anybody scared?”, her reply with perfect timing is, “Not me; I’ve already lived longer than I ever expected.” Where the joke falls flat is a time when someone starts to say, “I was…” and the other person says, “Oh, I thought you were going to say you were gay.”
That brings me to another off-putting aspect of the script, which is that some characters (John, played by John Michael Higgins; and Keegan-Michael Key, Beca’s boss) are overly snarky and cruel, rather than funny and clever as I assume they were intended to be. Both snarky and cruel can be funny, but not in this script. John makes some shockingly sexist comments about the Bellas that are so stereotypical—but since they are still adhered to by some in our society, are no longer funny. Beca’s boss humiliates an intern continuously, which is supposed to be funny, I guess, but isn’t.
I also thought the initial “disaster” for which the Bellas are going to be severely chastised is over the top. It’s a little creepy to play up the event—such as it is—as a sexual no-no and then linking it to the historical Marilyn Monroe birthday song for President Kennedy. Poor taste, I think.
To me, the best part of this production is listening to the a cappella groups sing, along with Anna Kendrick’s singing and performing. Another of the funny parts of the script is her trying to be snarky, which never comes off as biting; it just sounds dorky because Beca has so little hostility. I also greatly enjoyed the Snoop Dogg segments; Beca’s mashing up his song without his apparently noticing was priceless.
Many will find this pitch perfect.
Grade: C+ By Donna R. Copeland