film review: pitch perfect 2
A couple of days before Pitch Perfect 2 was released I walked past a promotional poster for it with a male friend of mine. I braced myself for the inevitable eye roll and derisive comment about chick flicks (and probably not a particularly original one – that’s the thing about sexism, it’s been around for thousands of years. Time to move on, its been done). But in a delightfully unexpected turn of events, he turned to me, smiled sheepishly and said ‘I’m kind of embarrassed to say this but I totally loved Pitch Perfect.’ It was a little disappointing to hear that he was embarrassed to admit it (Christ, it’s not like he admitted to liking Prometheus for its coherent plot!) but nevertheless, I felt like progress was being made. Men are starting to realise what women have known for so long: stories centred on women are not automatically sappy and boring.
The Barden Bellas – the all-girl competitive a cappella group at the centre of the Pitch Perfect franchise – sashay on stage in the opening scene of Pitch Perfect 2 in fabulous form. They’re back for a second round after three years since the conclusion of the first film. Unfortunately, an incident involving an exposed vagina causes the Bellas to receive a stern yet hilarious reprimand from Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins), the acid-tongued commentators of the a cappella competition, and one of the few duos to make jokes about misogyny actually funny. The Bellas’ mission, which they choose to accept with great zest and vigour, is to enter an international a cappella competition – even though ‘No American team has ever won. Seriously. Everyone hates us. The whole world.’
Where to begin with the praise of this film?! That it rose to the challenge of not only meeting the expectations of the original but surpassing it? The savage wit levelled at the inherent ridiculousness of misogyny? The dialogue that makes you want to write everything down so you can whip it out later and defeat your bitchy rivals?
Let’s start with the first one. Instead of following the exact same formula as the first film, the creators of Pitch Perfect 2 sat down and thought ‘what would our characters be doing three years from now?’ Thus a plot was formed that was original and made sense: the Bellas were nervously contemplating life after university, and demonstrating this fear in different ways – like sneaking off to secret internships or throwing themselves full throttle into the Barden Bellas.
The film certainly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to taken on the misogynists of the world. My favourite would have to be from John, the exasperating commentator. After forbidding the Bellas from recruiting new members following the exposed-vagina fiasco, he clumsily attempts to comfort them by saying ‘Don’t worry, you’re girls. Soon you’ll all be pregnant.’ This quote perfectly illustrates how idiotic misogyny is, something the Pitch Perfect franchise does again and again.
One criticism that has been levelled at this film is the lack of time devoted to certain aspects of the plot. There is a lot going on in this film and as such plot lines like the Beca/Jesse love story doesn’t get much of a look-in. Personally, I wasn’t too bothered by this. The romance of these two in the first film was beautiful, but the focus of this film was rightfully about Beca figuring out how to follow her dreams.
A recent study has shown that women make up the majority of movie-goers. While it seems that women would like to see more female protagonists or even just more female characters in general they will still go and see a film dominated by a male cast . Films like Pitch Perfect 2, with its cast of hilarious women, are giving lady audience members what they crave – female characters and a plot driven by the legitimate and realistic desires of women. Aca-awesome!