Alternatives is the tagline feature for other forms of entertainment outside of discussing literature. These posts may encompass television, movies, games, and music with a randomized flavour of the moment approach to each post.
Movies – Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Genre: Comedy, Musical, College
Duration: 115 Minutes
Directed By: Elizabeth Banks
Written By: Kay Cannon
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.
Pitch Perfect 2 is another coming of Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson reprising their roles as Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson with the comedic intellect of Elizabeth Banks at the helm of her first directorial debut.
I won’t lie: this film is satire, crass and all sorts of funny. But it is also the kind of humour that shouldn’t be funny. (It’s complicated.) See: I wasn’t offended by any of the remarks made because it’s in the nature of satire. However, there will be those who witness the stereotyping and blatant racism and find that it is a step back from all the equal rights we keep preaching. You can argue that it’s representative of adolescent ignorance—fine—but the film not only opens the door to future discrimination, it doesn’t even try to challenge the way of thinking; ultimately perpetuating this negativity.
I implore you to go make those same deportation or sexist or racially charged remarks at someone from a marginalized community and laugh while you do it. Is it still funny? Just because you fit into a certain box doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a brilliant idea to laugh at these struggles to the extent that others accept it to become truth. Thanks for slapping everyone in the face, Hollywood.
The rest of this review will speak to some of the ridiculousness of the narrative as it relates to the Barden Bellas and a cappella:
What the heck? Most of the performances were so over the top (almost as bad as Glee in delivery). Do you know how difficult it is to dance and sing? Not to mention all the acrobatics, pyrotechnics and other dance moves (did I see tutting and isolations?) included in the numbers. It’s pretty ri-damn-diculous. The performances in PP1 were tame in comparison but it was reflective of what actually goes on in most competitions.
The structure of Barden Bellas is questionable.
What I mean is that the only intake of new members is during their last years in university. This basically means they’ll have to rebuild their sound from one-ish member if there’s ever a PP3 (and viewers will have to run with it). And it’s unlikely (not impossible) that they’d run straight to first place in the next movie (if there is another movie). I know it’s fiction but it makes a cappella competitions seem easy to conquer and yet there are SO MANY groups that won’t make it to finals.
“Worlds” might be a different competition in itself but the even the ICCAs itself are structured around three main competitions: Quarterfinals > Semifinals > Finals.
The top 2 groups from each quarterfinal (there are multiple events) move onto Semifinals in their respective regions. Only the winning set/group from Semis makes it into Finals. That’s less than 10 groups in over 300ish competing groups.
Barden Bellas being consecutive national champions.
This might sound like I’m downplaying all-female a cappella—I’m not—but irrespective of male/co-ed groups typically performing better because they can create a more dynamic sound; with so many groups, it suspends the belief that they’d be able to always make it that far with only faulty stage props and themselves to muck them up. I’m not even going to talk about the wtfness in bringing all those ex-Bellas on stage. (Pretty sure that’s not allowed.)
Set arrangements should be more than samples.
While mash-up arrangements are awesome, the average set includes three distinct arragnements with one of them being of a ballad (although I’m unsure if this is some golden rule). I know there’s no time in the film to do a full range 12-minute set but everything was essentially top-40 dance tracks and never tried to emphasize the tender power in a slower arrangement. The closest thing in this movie was Flashlight but even the build-up was to a choir and audience with flashlights…? Yeaaaaah, no.
Sure they’re fun to watch but I do wish they would have considered looking at the difficulties of arranging a several-part arrangement on a whim. Know that they all sang [in tune] without the use of a pitch pipe. That’s bananas—everyone must have perfect pitch. (Or maybe there was a tuner but I didn’t see it.)
I’m sure there are other things that I can poke at but through all my rage, I did enjoy the film for its merits and what it’s done for the a cappella community; especially highlighting relevant groups. Even through all of the rage over the flair and fanfare of a cappella performances, I had a good time (and so did the audience around me). So there’s that I guess.
For your viewing pleasure, I will include some live ICCA sets. I obviously can’t include every group I’ve seen but I’ll try to find a balance. (Know that these are audience recordings, so judge accordingly.)
The Nor’easters (Northeastern Univ.) – 2013
Drumming Song (opb. Florence + the Machine)
Wrong Side of a Love Song (opb. Melanie Fiona)
Diamonds (opb. Rihanna)
Don’t You Worry, Child (opb. Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin)
Voices in Your Head (Univ. of Chicago) – 2012
We Found Love (opb. Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris)
Titanium (opb. David Guetta ft. Sia)
Little Lion Man (opb. Mumford & Sons)
SoCal VoCals (Univ. of Southern California) – 2015
Crazy/Natalie (opb. Gnarls Barkley/Bruno Mars)
Paper Hearts/Lay Me Down (opb. Tori Kelly/Sam Smith)
Bang Bang (opb. Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj)
Acabelles (Florida State Univ.) – 2015
Uptown Funk (opb. Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)
Tessellate (opb. Alt-J)
I Was Here (opb. Beyonce)
Originals (Carnegie Mellon Univ.) – 2013
Baby One More Time (opb. Britney Spears)
Cough Syrup (opb. Young the Giant)
Into the West (opb. Annie Lennox, from “LOTR: ROTK”)
Don’t You Worry, Child (opb. Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin)
If you want a slightly better representation of what the behind-the-scenes-look at the Pitch Perfect environment, I’d recommend the Docu-Series Sing It On. It does slightly pander to drama (that’s all in good fun, I’m sure) but it presents a good look at the lengths groups have to endure—through school and life, mind you—to stand on that ICCA stage.
(Edit: Confirmed that there is going to be a PP3. The next bit is just my post-viewing spoiler-y thoughts on what could happen with the franchise).
I really can’t see Hailee Steinfeld carrying the franchise. (Sorry.) So for the third film: I feel like if they want to keep the core franchise together (i.e. Kendrick/Wilson), one of the roads they can take is for the Bellas to try to make a living singing. This can easily lead to some “contest” that they’ll end up winning the prize to. To spice things up, they may combine a few members of the Treblemakers + Bellas to form a new group where they’ll first face difficulties in finding their sound. Sounds like a typical screenplay for arts-oriented films.