Pitch Perfect 2: 8 STARS

*Just quickly before we begin contemplating the Pitch Perfect film franchise allow me to take a moment to talk about Game of Thrones (CN rape). Some of you may not watch Game of Thrones, please feel free to skip ahead. For those of you who did see this week’s episode I am sure that you, like I, considered making RAPE IS NOT A PLOT POINT tshirts and tracking down the show’s writers and jamming those tshirts over their stupid tiny heads. I just wanted to say that if you went further than considering it and are actually going to do it please contact me because I’d like to be part of your plan. That is all*

(SPOILERS because hey I went to the cinema again, truly living the life of luxury in my retirement, and so this film is brand new. It is also a sequel and I am going to talk about the first Pitch Perfect film here too, partly because it’s a cracking film which deserves more recognition, and partly because it is very very very similar to the second film. And I mean that in the best way possible. Going to the cinema to see Pitch Perfect 2, you basically want to see Pitch Perfect again right? But with different songs, a Snoop Lion cameo and more Rebel Wilson right? If so that is what you get. Nothing horrible happens in this film so there will be no content notes, huzzah)

Gail: “I think we have just seen some a capella history being made”

John: “And from an all-female group Gail I never could have called this one”

Gail: “Well John you have always been a misogynist at heart”

John: “Absolutely”

So some would describe this film as a chick-flick. My feelings about the phrase chick flick mirror those of Sarah Michelle Geller in that episode of Sex and the City she’s in when she suggests that whoever made up the phrase chick flick should have his balls cut off, just because something rhymes does not mean it should be said. But I digress. Chick flicks are films for women, about women. This does not make them silly and trivial and beneath the notice of everyone who is serious, it makes them important. And silly. You can be both. Personally I like a film were men play supporting roles to the women in their lives who are busy discovering their passions and taking over the world using their smashing vocal cords. So let’s begin.

STAR: The Bechdel Test

– STAR: Developed female relationships

(Stars for everybody! These women are a team who are most successful in the surprisingly competitive world of a capella singing when they work together and listen to one another. Is this cheesey? Yes. But after a lifetime of being taught that women are each other’s worst enemies and groups of women create toxic environments where psychological torture reigns supreme some cheese is rather refreshing. Part of the magic of Pitch Perfect one is that Beca realises that she’s not too cool to need or want female friends, or to be interested in girl stuff. That everything women do that men aren’t interested in isn’t automatically lame)

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(This film definitely does play with stereotypes, and often plays with them for such a long time that they pretty much become true. The uberbitch from Das Sound Machine the super scary German a capella group is pretty much just an uberbitch. However I do like how much they run with Beca being really attracted to her. She doesn’t hate her, or ridicule her, or mock her when she wins, she just shouts YOUR SWEAT SMELLS OF CINNAMON at her because she’s just too damn hot to properly trash talk. The fact that most insulting things you could say to a rival woman would be misogynistic and/or untrue is a good thing to remember. So yeah you could pigeon hole pretty much everyone in the cast of Pitch Perfect and it’s not like character development is really what they’re going for here but every stereotype comes with an eye roll, or knowing wink, or at least an attempt to reclaim the label. Fat Amy is so known “so twig bitches like you don’t say it behind my back” and, although there are a lot of fat jokes, Fat Amy does not give a shit. She knows she’s fat, doesn’t make her less confident, or less sexy, or less happy (I know, cheesey again, what can I say close harmony singing melts my cynical dry old heart))

STAR: No excessive air of misogyny

–  No rigid adherence to gender norms

(So this is a film about pretty ladies who like to sing and dance. Let’s not get carried away with how groundbreaking it is. And this is a misogynistic world. The Bellas are suspended because a costume mishap caused Fat Amy to accidentally reveal her vagina to the world, and, more specifically, to the Obamas. The group then receive hate mail for months. Why having a vagina which was revealed to the public against her will should mean that Fat Amy deserves hate mail is a question which sadly many women whose lives have been thrust into the public eye have had to deal with. As can be seen from many of John and Gail’s (the competition presenters) conversations this, like all other industries, is one suffering from institutional misogyny (John at one disappointing moment in the Bella’s career says “That’s what happens when you let women go to college” We can only join Gail in asking incredulously “IS IT?!) However, Gail, Fat Amy and all of these lovely women attempt to fight against the barriers that are placed before them, and, let’s face it, admitting that women have vaginas even when they are not actually having sex is, weirdly, a step forward in the media’s presentation of women’s bodies)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

– No objectification of the female body

(Obviously we don’t see Fat Amy’s exposure and both skin baring and sex are kept pretty much to a minimum, bar Fat Amy and Bumper’s passionate embrace (the fact that their romantic subplot is by far the largest is excellent in every way, two people who are just really into one another, not just who are both conventionally hot and happen to be near one another, how refreshing) You can’t make a film about nubile young women shaking it on stage without getting into some objectification nonsense. And Das Sound Machine’s costumes really leave little to the imagination. All of these women are definitely hot enough to be cheerleaders by anyone’s standards and the suggestion that they represent some kind of group of misfits who would be shocking at first sight to the viewer is a bit like that trope Jesse mentions in the first film where a mysterious quiet girl takes off her glasses and you realise she was beautiful all along. No one was surprised when Sandra Bullock looked good in a bikini. No one was shocked that Anne Hathaway was a princess and no one thought the Bellas were anything other than regulation hotties. But, as Fat Amy says, they all have fat hearts)

STAR: No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– STAR: No threat of male violence against women

(Love a film with no violence against women. That’s basically all that one can say)

So 8 stars and 6 Bonus Points. 1 for female director Elizabeth Banks, who also plays Gail in the film. She’s comedy gold and I love her. 1 for female writer Kay Cannon who was a writer on 30 Rock and so deserves respect. 1 for LGBT+ women in the form of Cynthia Rose. I’m kinda uncomfortable about all the gay jokes Fat Amy makes at Cynthia Rose’s expense, maybe it’s a joke about how Australians are all bigots? Anyway Cynthia just rolls her eyes and deals with it, although that still doesn’t leave me feeling great. 1 for BME women, again everyone’s kinda stereotyped, the geeky near silent Asian girl, the butch Black girl, the Latina who has Seen Horrible Things in her Horrible Country. I would say that race wasn’t one of the things the film deals with well, but these women are there, they have voices and that counts for something. 1 for Fat Amy because being fat and starring in a film is rad and Rebel Wilson owns every step of it. And 1 for explicit discussion of feminist issues. For many moments ranging across both films eg when Beca walks in on the pillow fight and is like “you realise this has set women back 20 years”. Anyways the important thing to keep in mind is that the Pitch Perfect franchise is made for women, about women by women and that is a rare and beautiful thing. Also women’s ambitions in it have nothing to do with men and their friendship and creativity and humour is championed. Also Key of Key and Peele is in it and he is producing Snoop Lion’s new Christmas album because he ‘sleeps on a bed of grammys’. It’s a fun film people.

*A note on a capella singing. If you really like it you should listen to The Voca People. Because they’re really really good – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6EYrqIn0yI*

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One thought on “Pitch Perfect 2: 8 STARS

  1. Pingback: STAR LEAGUE | Feminist Film Stars

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