If you want an example of the profound unfunniness of Pitch Perfect 2, look no further than the clip above in which a host of acapella groups competes in a sing-off of “’90s Hip Hop Jamz.” It includes a German team, Das Sound Machine, showing off their zany accents that make them sing things like, “Zis iz how wee do eet,” and, “Zat girl is poizuuun.” Not featured above is their rendition of Kris Kross’s “Jump,” which features altered lyrics, “Kommissar will make you! / Deutschland will make you!” Are you ROTFL yet? Elsewhere in the film, Snoop Dogg sings a straightforward version of “Winter Wonderland.” I was mortified for him.
It’s rare to witness a product that manages to be equal parts earnest and soulless. Equally rare is it to see a movie that passes the Bechdel test with flying colors and yet remains so heinously backward, with dozens of jokes that merely remind you that Rebel Wilson is fat and a self-consciously diverse cast whose non-whites don’t get plots of their own but instead only exist to punctuate scenes with non sequiturs (in the case of the Asian and Latina members of the protagonist acapella team the Barden Bellas) or lust after their peers (in the case of a black lesbian). The closest said queer, Cynthia-Rose Adams (played by singer-songwriter Ester Dean), comes to having her own storyline happens when her hair catches on fire.
A thread of self-commentary runs through Pitch Perfect 2—like when a news anchor reports on a scandal caused by a wardrobe malfunction during a Bellas performance attended by President Obama and voices surprise that an acapella group that has won so many championships “is a thing.” It’s a sub-sub-Pixar (sub-Dreamworks, then), aren’t-we-adorable-and-hilarious-and-wow-so-grounded sense of humor that manages to be self-congratulatory. Virtually every joke landed with a thud in the screening that I attended earlier this week. Imagine that interspersed with awful karaoke that manages to iron the eccentricity out of every song covered or just plain suck. Rebel Wilson, who has a terrible voice, doing the entirety of Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” just made me wonder why anyone would ever want to hear anyone but Pat Benatar sing that song.
Ultimately, Pitch Perfect 2 is another dumb comedy aimed at the youth of its time. Every generation has them—I think about what it would be like to sit through Sister Act and its cloying sining-nun numbers for the first time at this age and I immediately want to curl up in a ball while cradling my nostalgia. From what I can tell, Pitch Perfect 2’s greatest contribution to society is the suggestion that girls fart too. That’s something you don’t see (or hear) in movies everyday. Otherwise, I hope the tepid reception at my screening is representative of the overall response to this crap. With the announcement of the end of American Idol happening earlier this week, it’s the perfect time for us to stick a fork in jukebox pop culture once and for all.