“Pitch Perfect 2” Early Review: Graduation and Growing Up

Last Thursday, I had the exciting opportunity to attend a free early screening of “Pitch Perfect 2” through my college’s programs council. After waiting in line for an hour and battling a swarm of fellow students for free Covergirl and Pantene products (thank you, corporate sponsorship!), I settled into my seat at the Paramount theater, ready to watch the sequel to a movie that quickly stole the hearts of 20-somethings everywhere.

“Pitch Perfect 2” begins with the Bellas humiliating themselves at a performance in front of President Obama and the First Lady, leading to their suspension as an a capella group. Despite this suspension, the Bellas, as three-time national championships, have the opportunity to compete at the World A Capella Championship—if they win, they will be reinstated as an a capella group. However, while the Bellas begin to prepare for the biggest competition of their lives, Beca (Anna Kendrick), is focused more on life after college and her future career as a music producer.

Despite having female heavy casts, both “Pitch Perfect” movies have never solely been about the girls’ romantic relationships with other men, or about catfights or gossip, which is what makes them so appealing to me. Both movies have been about Beca, and the other Bellas, finding their voice amidst the unknown, something 20-somethings are very familiar with. In the first movie, Beca had to find her voice in unwanted and unfamiliar college territory. In “Pitch Perfect 2,” Beca and the Bellas have to find their voice as they move on into the real world.

I think that’s why these movies have been so popular with our generation—we’re young, we’re restless, we’re stumbling across the world trying to figure out what we want, while also trying to make sense of this crazy, beautiful universe around us. The spirit of the movies represents the spirit of the millennial, just trying to figure him or herself out while navigating the mess that is young adulthood.

So that’s really what this movie is about. Yes, there’s the music and the impeccable mashups (like the intro mashup between “Timber/Wrecking Ball/The National Anthem”), there’s the romance and the drama. But at the end of the day, this movie is about graduating college and entering into adulthood. When I sat down in the Paramount Theater on Thursday evening, I couldn’t have imagined how timely this message was. I’m graduating on May 16, the day after the movie’s nationwide release, and the fears expressed by Beca are the same things that have been running and screaming around my head for the past year. I fully sympathize with the worries that Beca had about life outside of the Bellas, the fear that Chloe had about leaving college to the point where she “intentionally failed Russian Lit 3 times so that [she] could stay a Bella.” Sure, I don’t plan on failing out and delaying my graduation—but I completely understand the fear that drives that action.

The cast remains diverse, which is refreshing on some level, and the writing and the humor is, for the most part, impeccable. Old characters, like Anna Kendrick’s Beca and the cult favorite “Fat Amy” by Rebel Wilson, are portrayed to perfection. Additionally, there are fantastic new characters to build upon the work of the previous film. Keegan Michael Key (“Key and Peele”) plays the domineering recording studio executive perfectly, and is definitely my favorite new character. David Cross (“Arrested Development”), another new favorite, hilariously plays an eccentric a capella enthusiast/fanatic, who forms the “National A Capella Laser Ninja Dragon League.”

Notwithstanding the fantastic performances and the whip-smart jokes, there were two particular missteps—a poor joke on consent and excessive stereotypical jabs at Latinas to the point where I couldn’t tell if they were being ironic anymore. However, even with the moments that made me cringe, I left the theater feeling a new sense of comfort with the idea of graduation that I hadn’t felt when I entered. I will still be at my university next year completing graduate school, but the majority of my friends are moving on to new places and new adventures. I’ve been nervous about the future, of what will happen when my support network splits up and leaves, of what will happen when it’s my turn to leave the bubble that my university has provided me. But seeing those same fears played out through hilarious and relatable characters, and watching them come to terms with growing up and moving on from college, made me think, Hey, this might all work out.

Yes, “Pitch Perfect 2” may not be perfect, but it certainly came at the perfect time for me, and for many 20-somethings that will be watching the movie in a few weeks. It’s about growing up, it’s about figuring out your passion, about figuring out what you want to do in life, about figuring out yourself. It’s hilarious, it’s relatable, it’s heartwarming, it’s catchy, and it captures and recreates the spirit of its predecessor. As a confused 20-something, there isn’t much more I could have wanted from this sequel.

Other gems:

  • A capella version of the “Thong Song” by Sisqo and “MMMBop” by Hanson, both featured on my 90s/Throwback Spotify Playlist (which is a pretty awesome playlist, if I do say so myself)
  • “You’re so spirited, I just want to put you in a box and saw you in half”
  • The Bellas receiving hate mail from Sonia Sotomayor, and half of the audience laughing while the other half nervously whispered to each other asking “Who is Sonia Sotomayor?”
  • Eminem apparently has a rocket ship that doesn’t go anywhere but he “has dreams for it”
  • Green Bay Packers singing Destiny’s Child
  • “My time is like a toddler in a tiara—precious & short”
  • Fat Amy rubbing her sweat on Beca so that she can regain her confidence
  • Snoop Dogg’s Christmas Album
Mayura Iyer
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Mayura Iyer

Mayura is not one to be idle - she is hyper-involved and hates having nothing to do. She has been likened to a Disney animated princess and to Mort, the tiny lemur from Madagascar (on separate occasions). An intense nostalgic, you can often find her listening to her "...Baby One More Time" 90's pop Pandora station or dancing the same music that played during her middle school dance. She studies to the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars soundtracks and is on a mission to raise awareness about the redundancy of the phrase "chai tea". When she's not out conquering the world, she is usually binge-watching 30 Rock, Gilmore Girls, or Parks and Rec. Her friendship can be bought with wine and cheese.
Mayura Iyer
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