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Richard Cartwright

(L to R) Cynthia Rose (ESTER DEAN), Ashley (SHELLEY REGNER), Jessica (KELLEY ALICE JAKLE), Emily (HAILEE STEINFELD), Beca (ANNA KENDRICK), Chloe (BRITTANY SNOW), Stacie (ALEXIS KNAPP), Fat Amy (REBEL WILSON) and Lilly (HANA MAE LEE) are the Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect 2, the follow-up to 2012’s surprise hit.

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★★★✩✩

Pitch Perfect 2

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and Hailee Steinfeld

Rated PG-13

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Pitch Perfect 2 is the long-awaited sequel to Pitch Perfect, released in 2012. The film opens with the Barden Bellas, now seniors in college, performing for Barack Obama. The performance goes terribly wrong after a wardrobe malfunction results in Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) flashing the audience. This incident leads to the team’s suspension, and Beca (Anna Kendrick) strikes a deal that will allow the Bellas to be reinstated under the condition that they win the Acapella World Tournament. The rest of the film follows their shenanigans and mishaps as they make it through their final year of college and prepare for the final competition.

If you loved the first movie, you will definitely enjoy this one. All the characters are back as fellow students or as graduated alums who are still inextricably linked to the team in some shape or form. The same jokes were made, there was another riff-off, and they even sang the same song (“When I’m Gone”). But the insistence upon making the sequel so similar to its successful predecessor was ultimately its shortcoming. There were so many gimmicky, time-filling subplots just to showcase some old characters or events that otherwise served little to further the plot. Many minutes were devoted to an orientation performance by the Treblemakers and to a riff-off coordinated by a random, creepy acapella enthusiast. Although these scenes were enjoyable (when else will you be able to see the Green Bay Packers singing as an acapella group?), they felt disjointed from the actual occurrences of the movie and were never referred to again. The jokes were also ultimately the same, only this time more extreme and explicit. Every single joke was either racist, sexist, about sexual orientation, or about bodily functions. Instead of being charming or witty like in the first movie, the jokes in Pitch Perfect 2 felt old, lazy, and reused.

Fortunately, there is a redeeming point to the movie: it presented many issues that hit really close to home for us college students. As college seniors, the main characters felt the scary reality of life-after-graduation looming over them. The themes of potential failure and going unnoticed were explored throughout the film as the girls contemplated their futures or attempted to enter the career world after they graduated. Although these characters were valued and talented individuals in college, they were constantly reminded that once they graduated, no one would care that they were once acapella singers. For instance, one of the characters purposely failed school three times so she could continue being a Bella, because it was the only thing she knew how to be. Even more terrifyingly, the majority of the graduating seniors confessed that they had no idea what they were planning to do after college. Although most of these issues were dismissed with jokes, these questions resonated with a large part of the audience. As college students, we have to ask ourselves “What will I do after I graduate?” all the time; watching the students of Barden University bumble around, we are both comforted by the fact that we are not alone in our confusion and we are inspired to try to figure it out.

But all in all, the movie was fun. The music was enjoyable to listen to, the characters were lovable, and the plot’s twists and turns were surprising. The movie’s serious themes were laced with jokes which, although crude, offered a good time for us to laugh about ourselves. It served as a great reminder that sometimes, laughing at ourselves (and at fictionalized, hyperreal versions of ourselves) is the best way to get over our prejudices, self-hate, and anxieties.