Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 1583 - Pitch Perfect 2

I can't remember why I ever watched the first Pitch Perfect, but I'm sure it was a combination of people who said it was actually pretty good and Anna Kendrick.  Suffice to say, I enjoyed the first movie.  When the trailer for the sequel came out I found myself wanting to see it, but when the movie arrived I never got around to seeing it in the theater.  I think it was because I thought that while the first movie focused on Anna Kendrick's Beca, I thought that the second one would focus on Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy.  Much to my relief, that wasn't the case.

The basic plot of the film is that the Barden Bellas have landed themselves in some hot water and are banned from both competing and recruiting.  Through some loopholes, they can compete at the Worlds and they have a new Bella (Hailee Steinfeld), because she came to them and is a legacy.  There's lots of a cappella singing, there's a couple romantic entanglements, and there's a harsh German group that stands in the Bellas way.  Oh, and montages.

But what makes this movie pretty good is the underlying message about growing up.  There's a running joke that Brittany Snow's Chloe has been at college for 7 years, because she doesn't want to leave this group.  And it's funny, but it also has a tinge of bittersweet.  Once she leaves (and all the other Bellas, too, since they're seniors) what are they going to do with their lives?  Beca has taken an internship with a music producer, and that's eating up a lot of her time. Fat Amy is discovering that she's falling in love with Adam Devine's Bumper.  And the Bellas need to get their mojo back if they're going to do the impossible and win the Worlds.

I'm going to take a moment here, and talk about Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy.  Like I said before, I thought she was going to be the focal point of the movie.  She wasn't, but neither was she ignored.  I feel that the writers hit that sweet spot just perfectly, as she never overwhelms the film (even as she's the impetus for the Bellas exile), and is perfect (and perfectly blunt) when she appears.  Finding that balance between obnoxious and funny is sometimes a tenuous line, but the movie nails it.  Her own journey is one that she experiences and earns all on her own.

What's also impressive about this movie is the actors who just let it all hang out (as it were).  John Michael Higgins' announcer is even more clueless and sexist this time around.  David Cross kills it as an eccentric a cappella aficionado.  A number of real life Green Bay Packers show up for a throwaway gag.  And Elizabeth Banks does a fine job working double duty as co-announcer with Higgins as well as directing the flick.

This is not a movie that will be praised through the annals of time.  But it tells a funny story, has some good music, and has real heart and deeper thoughts than a movie like this usually does.  As a sequel it really wins, because the it has the characters you love (or like), has them actually grow as characters, and introduces some new ones.


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