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'Pitch Perfect 2' is a letdown
John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks in "Pitch Perfect 2." - photo by Doug Wright
'Pitch Perfect 2' (PG-13) 2 stars

What do you do if youve produced an edgy, fun little film that ends up being a much bigger hit than anyone anticipated?

Well, if you produced "Pitch Perfect," you scramble to come up with a good sequel, right?

Well, the operative word here is scramble. Apparently, producers realized they needed to hurry before the cast aged anymore and fans' memories grew short. So any idea they threw at the wall and stuck was jammed into the plot line. Worst of all, the old tired formula for slamming together a quick part 2 was employed here amplify everything that seemed to work in the first effort, even if the amplification turns to distortion. Anything that was funny and edgy in the first film was cranked up and applied to the glued-together plot.

Too bad. I was really looking forward to this movie.

All the big names are back as the film opens with the Bellas performing at the Kennedy Center on the presidents birthday. Everything is going well until Rebel Wilson, reprising her role as Fat Amy, descends from the heights of the stage for her rendition of Wrecking Ball. But, let me put this delicately, she flips over and subjects the audience and the first family to the most spectacular wardrobe malfunction ever.

To say they fall out of favor after the colossal international embarrassment is a massive understatement. The girls have been banned from everything and it appears this is the end of the Bellas. But there is one last hope. Because they are reigning national a cappella champions, they have the right to compete for the international title.

This is where everything completely derails.

First, a new member joins the troupe. Hailee Steinfeld, who was nominated for an Oscar, stars as Emily a wide-eyed student who is able to sidestep one of the many bans issued against the Bellas and join because shes a legacy and wasnt recruited. Her talents are simply wasted here.

The story continues with a bizarre invitation that takes the group to a party hosted by an a cappella eccentric who brings some of the future competitors scheduled for the international competition to his home for a very strange sing off. This is where the Bellas meet the German group that fulfills every Teutonic stereotype known to man.

I could tell you about the strange bonding moments when the girls decide to go to a rugged corporate retreat run by a former Bella, Aubrey, played once again by Anna Camp. And you may be wondering about Anna Kendricks character, Becca. Well, shes all conflicted because of an internship opportunity with an egotistical record producer, which causes a distraction that the other Bellas resent.

Ah, how will it all turn out? Who cares?

Elizabeth Banks not only stars as the long-suffering co-commentator along with John Michael Higgins, shes the director as well. The fact that this film is lazy, goes for cheap laughs and wastes talent is only partially her responsibility. A lot of the blame here lies with the screenwriters.
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