The original Pitch Perfect was hands down the biggest surprise for me the year it came out. What I thought would be just another Glee rip-off actually turned out to be a smart, funny and entertaining musical filled with talented actresses and catchy songs. The movie was also a huge surprise commercial success and has a big fan following. Needless to say a sequel was inevitable, which leads us to Pitch Perfect 2.
The Barton Bellas, including Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick), Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and most of the girls from the first film, are back and better than ever… well at least for the first five minutes of the film. Unfortunately, a scandal involving Fat Amy accidentally exposing herself to the President leads to the Bella’s disbandment. Their only hope is to win the Worldwide acapella competition, something no American team has done before. To increase their chances, the Bellas recruit a new legacy member Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) who is trying to live up to her mother’s reputation. Along the way, many of the Bellas have to juggle various personal and professional problems including Beca’s new internship at a music production company, Fat Amy’s romance with ex-Treblemaker Bumper Allen (Adam Devine) and Chloe’s anxiety about graduating college.
First off, let me say that if you haven’t seen the first Pitch Perfect, you can see this one and still enjoy it, though you won’t understand the characters as well as if you’ve seen the original. That being said, it’s hard to judge Pitch Perfect 2 without comparing it to the first one, and in that regard there are two major complaints I have. My first problem is that the male acapella team, the Treblemakers, led by Jesse (Skylar Astin) and Benji (Ben Platt) are extremely underused, especially considering how important they were in the original. Hell, you’d hardly know that Beca and Jesse were dating had it not been for one short scene that acknowledged it. Now I realise that the film is centered on the Bellas, but the Treblemakers are basically a punch line here in that they apparently have become a worse team since last we saw them. I have a hard time believing that an acapella team that was supposedly the best in the country four years ago became so bad so quickly, especially considering the same guys are in it.
Another area in which Pitch Perfect 2 fails to live up to its predecessor is the musical numbers. They’re not bad, in fact they’re all really good but they lack the catchiness and creativity of the first film. I’m still definitely planning on adding the soundtrack to my music rotation, but I’ll replay the first film’s songs a lot more. They also tried a little too hard to make their original song “Flashlight” seem better than it actually is. Let me just say, it’s no “When I’m Gone”. But their final number is a crowd pleaser and the sequel’s version of the acapella riff-off from the first is also a great scene, creatively blending together various songs as each team must follow the other while sticking to a specific musical category. My last major complaint (which is not a comparison to the first movie) is that the German acapella team that are presented as the Bellas’ biggest competition just weren’t really that good to me, at least not nearly as good as the Bellas. Thus, anytime people showered them with acclaim, I didn’t find it believable.
But again, a lot of those problems only popped out at me because I saw and liked the first one so much. Other than that this is a good sequel that does a great job setting up what will most likely be a lot more sequels. They are clearly setting up Hailee Steinfeld to take over the franchise, and will most likely have to introduce a lot more new characters in the next installment. Although Steinfeld isn’t quite as good a singer or actress as Anna Kendrick, I can see her leading the next film capably. I really enjoyed her budding romance with Benji and wished we would have spent more time with them than with Amy and Bumper. While Steinfeld will most likely lead the franchise from now on, I have no doubt that the original actresses will return for at least a cameo. And if they don’t this movie does provide at least some conclusion for their characters. As a HUGE Anna Kendrick fan, I’m sad at the prospect of her role being significantly reduced in the future, but I guess that will make her free to pursue other projects, which I’m all for.
2015 hasn’t exactly been a great year for comedies so far and Pitch Perfect 2 is by far the funniest movie I have seen all year. Some of the funniest lines are from the two acapella commentators, played by Elizabeth Banks (who also directed and produced the film) and John-Michael Higgins who have a great back and forth together and are mean in a very funny way. The movie is also packed with cool cameos and new characters, Keegan-Michael Key is hilarious as Beca’s music producer boss and David Cross is equally as funny playing this weird acapella fan who hosts an underground competition. Without spoiling too much, there’s one cameo that involves a group of people you would never expect to see in this kind of film, and it had me laughing for a solid minute. Some jokes do fall a little flat, or go on for too long, but you’ll quickly forget about those because something funny will quickly follow. The humour is also not afraid to be a little offensive, with some jokes coming off as slightly sexist and racist, but it’s all in good fun and never gets too disrespectful.
In a summer flooded with big loud action movies (Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road) it’s good to see a blockbuster like this that appeals to the more innocent and less chaotic side of our brains. Though it doesn’t quite capture the magic in a bottle that made the first film such a delightful surprise, Pitch Perfect 2 is still an entertaining comedy with some really funny moments and solid musical numbers. Also… Anna Kendrick. Enough said.
Final Score: 7.5/10