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The Bellas return in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’

By Staff | May 28, 2015

Wardrobe “malfunctions” have become notorious at some blockbuster live events and are often couched in suspicion that the exposure may have been intentional. Nothing could be further from the truth when a capella champion “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson) has her tights shred while being lowered during a command performance before President Obama at Lincoln Center.

Treated like a scandalous celebrity faux pas, the champion Barden Bellas lose their national tour dates as punishment, leading the “Pitch Perfect 2” gals to set sights on an international redemption.

That’s why the first film directed by Elizabeth Banks dumps nearly every gender equity issue -except the blatantly romantic -into the voice boxes of the graduating singers.

Adding a bit of crude humor by way of an announcing duo, actor John Michael Higgins delivers lines (“Let’s hear it for girls too ugly to be cheerleaders,”) while Banks lets the remarks roll off in a manner suggesting the critical moderators from “Best of Show.” However, college administrators call the unfortunate mishap victims “tramps” and another states, “You’re just females. You’ll all be pregnant soon.”

Demeaning the Bellas much like a bawdy frat or sorority elicits laughs, but the college women absorb the disrespect without any kind of protest. I mean, really, those insults are usually causes of action in our litigious society. Notably, the girls hold their tempers, turning demoralization into potentially winning energy. Guess the audience is supposed to gag and put fingers down their throat showing their mocking disfavor.

One plot gaff is that the dodge to international competition comes without any mention of costs. Stripped of their national title and appearances, how do the singers raise funds for a Denmark trip accompanied by a horde or fans and friends? Perhaps, that’s the unstated role of a legacy which hones them into shape at a campground to get back to the basics of harmony (musically and personally).

Submerging mouthy, independent “Fat Amy” as a young magician’s quest for a lady to saw in half turns into a pleasing role reversal, completed without one iota of reference to her body size. Rebel Wilson achieves this by maintaining her character as a likable near-diva whose ostentatious personality and talent brings to mind a re-invented Tracy Turnblad (“Hairspray”) persona, whose dancing on the Corny Collins Show led to an early integration lesson for Baltimore.

The choreography, lighting, and special effects accompany more upbeat and contemporary songs. So much movement occurs on stage, you do not miss the music.

The concert portions and the young women’s other issues blend nicely, except the early lead-ins to the later magnificent show choir and Vegas-worthy components have less vigorous and compelling renditions. A continuing secretive music production internship by Beca (Anna Kendrick) fits nicely (more than the corny, mudslinging retreat), except too much is made that Bella guru Aubrey (Anna Camp) has not been informed. In the original, Audrey had a brazen passion for control, which is diminished to bits of dialogue agonizing “what will life be without the Bellas?”