Pitch Perfect is a perfect specimen of an 00s teen comedy - endlessly quotable with a cast of breakout characters/actors, and memorable scene after memorable scene after memorable scene. Plus, a performance element that allows for a pretty stellar soundtrack (and surprise Billboard hit!). Magic Mike, meanwhile, succeeds largely because when you say "Channing Tatum stripper movie", even with the appended "directed by Steven Soderbergh", you would never in a million years think of anything that resembles what the movie actually is: Smart, sophisticated, and relatively low-key, with revelatory performances from Tatum and Matthew McConnaughey.
So I guess it makes perfect sense that their sequels are, respectively, a pale photocopy of the original and a complete and total surprise in how it flips the script on the original.
Does anyone know what film set the template that Pitch Perfect 2 follows? You know, the plot in which our heroes get thrust onto an international stage where they get too big for their britches and are beat down by hardcore European perfection before rallying using good old-fashioned American pluck and ingenuity. It's a well-worn sequel plot by now, and this isn't a particularly good version of it: Due to the arcane a capella competition rules, the Barden Bellas are stripped of their championship promotional tour after a Fat Amy-led wardrobe malfunction happened on a national stage in front of the President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. The tour is filled by the reigning World Champions, a German group named Das Sound Machine. But the Bellas are still able to perform at the World Championships, and if they win, they aren't disgraced former champions anymore. Or something.
Magic Mike XXL, on the other hand, is a shockingly great sequel in that it makes me want not only another sequel, but a prequel as well. Most of the "Cock-Rockin' Kings of Tampa" were mere sketches in the original Magic Mike, but here they all come into view in ways both small and large that make me want to know more. And that's before we get to the HOT AS FUCK dancing. And Jada Pinkett-Smith as the world's greatest hype (wo)man. And Andie McDowell's one scene wonder. And Matt Bomer singing D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" (SWOON).