By Ethan Kane
I got the chance to go see this film yesterday, and overall, I think it was a poor attempt to cash in on its predecessor. I was able to easily make comparisons between the first and second movie, and spotted a quite a few plot holes, which I’m usually rubbish at. The ending makes no sense whatsoever, dropping story arcs completely and forgetting key pieces of information that they made sure to hammer into your head throughout the entire movie. The plot seems like it was based off of a fanfiction, to be honest. Time to go over the plot, and maybe you’ll see how similar these films are. Spoilers ahead.
The film opens with a performance from the Barden Bellas which takes a turn for the worse, much like the first movie. However, instead of a vomiting incident, there is a catastrophic wardrobe malfunction involving Fat Amy. Plus, Obama happens to see it. The Bellas are considered a disgrace to the a cappella community, and are no longer allowed to compete. That is unless they win the world championships, which is deemed impossible. No American team has ever won, as “everybody hates us”. While the team freaks out and practices like mad, Beca receives an internship at a studio, which she decides to hide from the rest of the Bellas because…drama? Isn’t this kinda like your job at the student radio station three years ago? You had no desire to hide that, despite the group being run by someone who is a significantly more serious control freak than Chloe. Whatever, moving on. At the studio, she’s treated like a cog in the machine and wants to prove herself. Yawn.
A freshman at Barden (whose name I can’t remember because she’s a rather bland character) looks forward to joining the Bellas, as her mother was part of the Bellas years before. I’m betting all my money right here and right now that she’s going to perform with her mother at the end. She auditions with an original song and is accepted into the group (illegally, might I add, as they were restricted from adding members that season), but feels she is just considered a “legacy” and not a real Bella. Blandy McNewgirl is treated like a cog in the machine and wants to prove herself. Yawn. Wait, this sounds familiar…
The group goes to watch a performance from Das Sound Machine, their German rivals who took over the Bellas victory tour. I must admit that this scene was pretty awesome if you disregard the fact that this fully German team is performing American pop music in English, which doesn’t make much sense. They talk to DSM and Beca becomes creepily obsessed with the leader. This scene is uncomfortable.
A crazy man invites a bunch of a capella teams to his secret underground dungeon to sing for him. Wow, that sounds weird now that I’ve typed it out… Basically, it’s the Riff Off scene from the first movie with different categories. Guess what? Their rival team wins, just like the last movie… They won by default, seeing as Blandy McNewgirl decided that her original song no one has heard of that was written in the 21st century qualifies as 90’s pop music for some reason, sings it, and gets them disqualified, because apparently the a capella community shuns original pieces. Is it just me, or does this seem like a setup?
Beca manages to prove herself to her boss by helping the record producer arrange Snoop Dogg’s Christmas album. Not even joking. I guess she deserved the praise, as anyone who can manage to make “A Snoop Dogg Christmas” something listenable has some real talent. The record producer asks for a demo from Beca, kinda like how the radio station guy got a demo in the last movie. She eventually turns in her demo, and the response is actually not what I expected. While I expected an “Oh my God, you’re great,” moment, the producer instead criticized her choice of only including mashups. He asks for an original piece from her, as he knows she has potential. Hmm… The producer needs an original, and the new girl has been singing an original for pretty much the entire film, and drawing extreme emphasis to the fact that it is original. I wonder…
Up next is the obligatory middle performance, where things go bad, but not quite as bad as the first time. The Bellas are relying too much on special effects and have lost a sense of who they are. I didn’t really pay attention to this scene, as I was too concerned about who hired the Bellas to perform at a nursing home after the “incident” with the president. The hilarious commentators from the first movie are shoehorned into this scene, as they supposedly started a capella podcast. Why else would they be commentating on a performance at a nursing home?
The Bellas feel they need to connect again through a retreat to a boot camp run by Aubrey, the leader from the first movie. There’s the whole “liar revealed” scene where Chloe gets pissed about Beca having a job and Beca gets pissed at Chloe for not liking that she has a job. They become a functional team once more and gather around a campfire, sharing what they’re going to do when they graduate and talking about how much they’re going to miss each other, the power of friendship and all that garbage. Finally, the random, out of place romantic subplot between Amy and Bumper (that I’ve neglected to mention until now due to the sheer strangeness of the entire thing) reaches its apex as the two get together officially.
Oh, and there’s a romantic subplot between Blandy McNewgirl and Benji that seems extremely forced. This is why this movie seems so much like a fanfic to me. They throw in a bunch of romance, toss in clichéd new characters who seem either extremely out of place or like copies of preexisting characters, and have the characters “grow up” and force them go their separate ways. Not to mention the lazy inclusion of Chloe, who supposedly flunked her classes purposefully so she could stay with the Bellas. Isn’t college expensive? How have you stayed here for SEVEN YEARS?! Also, the fact that you flunked college three years in a row sure isn’t going to look good to future employers.
Anyway, Blandy collaborates with Beca and the producer loves her original song. Whoop-de-frickin-doo. I sure didn’t see that coming. Oddly, this whole story arc is completely dropped after this. Well, OK! It’s not like it was particularly riveting anyway! Time for the world championships. There’s a montage of all the groups while a recognizable song is sung in the background, just like the last movie. However, there’s something that I couldn’t get over about this montage. They make it very clear that multiple groups from around the world are participating in the singing of this song, as they emphasize that it is sung in different languages. Does this mean that these competing groups are all singing the exact same song in the same key! The judges must have had no problem deciding the top two as the Bellas and Das Sound Machine considering every single other group just sang “Any Way You Want It” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
So the Bellas and DSM are neck in neck! To be completely honest, DSM has such awesome shows, that I ended up rooting for them. When a movie unintentionally makes you root for the antagonist, you know you’ve made a mistake. So then the Bellas perform, their entire future riding on their shoulders. The Bellas sing some pop songs, then, God forbid, they sing Blandy’s original! Wait, nobody seems to care… If this is so passionately hated by the capella community, why does it only get a PASSING MENTION from the unimportant PODCASTERS?! So, big surprise, the crowd loves this original song that’s so average, they probably thought it was a pop song they hadn’t heard. And guess what? A BUNCH OF THE OLD BELLAS COME ON STAGE AND SING WITH THEM!
I have many comments. One, this is probably against the rules to add this many people to their team at the last second like this. Two, assuming that this is all collegiate, which I highly doubt at this point considering how old Das Sound Machine looks, but just go with it, how are these old people allowed to compete? They made a huge deal about one person being too young last time, but 100 people who are too old is FINE, ISN’T IT? Third, no one comments on the fact that they have added a member to the group when they’re clearly not supposed to.
I know they supposedly had the loophole that she came to them, they didn’t approach her, but surely the officials would have some things to say about that! Fourth, and this just occurred to me, the Bellas won a collegiate a capella competition. This entered them into a world championship, which I would assume is for college students too, right? WRONG. Look at those people in DSM! Those are NOT college students, meaning this is a competition for top a capella groups in the COUNTRY. This implies that there are no a capella teams in the whole of America besides college clubs, and they are the people who get sent out to the world championships against fully grown adults. No wonder America always loses! It’s not because they hate us, we’re just STUPID about who we send! Fifth, I was right. Blandy sang with her mom. And would you look at that, the Bellas miraculously win and are reinstated and eligible to compete next year! I never would have guessed!
This film was half enjoyable when I first saw it, as I managed to set aside the plot holes and just focus on it as what it was supposed to be: a comedy. I will admit, this film had some great moments, but the more I thought about the movie, the more the plot fell apart until it made no sense whatsoever! This movie is a convoluted mess attempting to be what the original was, and for the most part, they succeeded. However, the romance was forced, the subplots were boring, it was as clichéd as possible, and it seemed as if they tried to copy the scenes that did well in the first movie and hoped no one would notice. It’s decent if you’re just looking to laugh, but if you analyze movies at all, I’d say it’s best to stay away.