Pitch Perfect 2
The original Pitch Perfect was a surprise hit—and, though trivial, pleasant enough. But in three years, writer Kay Cannon could think of nowhere to take this gang of one-dimensional stereotypes except to toss them into yet another variation on the old underdogs-at-the-world-competition story. The result, under the arrhythmic direction of the otherwise talented Elizabeth Banks, is a near-disaster—a comedy that isn't funny and a musical that isn't tuneful (and once again, this supposed a capella group doesn't sing unaccompanied). The net effect is wincing sympathy for Anna Kendrick and Hailee Steinfeld, who deserve better. Most of the rest of the cast, having no discernible talent, can count their blessings to be working at all. (And what's with Rebel Wilson? Aren't her 15 minutes about ready to run out?) J.L.