The pitches are back! Set three years later than the original film Pitch Perfect 2 finds the Barden Bellas, now led by Beca (Anna Kendrick), as three time National A Cappella champions. They have finally arrived and get to showcase their skills at a gala attended by President Barrack Obama, but that is when everything goes horribly wrong and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) suddenly finds herself unwillingly flashing the Prez.
With most of America convinced that it was deliberate the Bellas suddenly find themselves suspended from the collegiate a cappella circuit and being replaced on their national tour by the current German champions Das Sound Machine, led by their bitchy leaders (Birgitte Hjort Sorenson and Flula Borg). As if Das Sound Machine don’t get in their face again the Bellas are told the only way they can get back onto the circuit is if they become the first American group to ever win the World Championships.
The task seems impossible as the Bellas struggle to find their sound and Beca keeps a secret internship from the rest of the group it begins to look like the Bellas aren’t going to have enough firepower to see them even compete at the championships let alone win it. Even the introduction of the talented Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) to the group doesn’t seem to be starting a fire for them. Is this the end for the Bellas?
With the surprise success of 2012’s Pitch Perfect there is little wonder that a sequel has surfaced. Pitch Perfect was to the female audience what American Pie was to males and slotted in nicely for those that were just that little too young for Bridesmaids. But aside from the best thing about the film was that it was unique, new and actually made its audience laugh – something that many comedies around that time certainly weren’t able to do.
Pitch Perfect 2 sees one of the stars of the first film, Elizabeth Banks, step into the director’s chair as she tries to make amends for the fact that she was one of the directors responsible for a segment in the awful Movie 43. Thankfully Banks decides not to do what most music or dance flavored sequels decide to do and she steers clear from creating an exact replica of the first film. Teaming up with the same screenwriter from the first film, Kay Cannon, Banks puts her own unique stamp on this film tipping it right over into the outrageous side of the comedy genre without forgetting that this is a film that also needs heart.
Somehow despite the fact that the seriousness of the first film seems MIA (except for the scenes between Beca and her boss) there is still a lot to like about Pitch Perfect 2. Banks and Cannon pile on the comedy with a huge amount of one-liner zingers that mostly seem to hit their mark. Cannon’s script also shows a fair bit of bravery as she makes John’s (John Michael Higgins) one-liners much more outrageous than the first film. No punches are held back as he brilliantly delivers some sexist and racist gags that take a swing at Indians, Koreans and women to just name a few. The fact that a comedy writer is still willing to take a chance and go there in this time of the nanny state certainly shows that this is a film that is willing to be a little bit different.
As is the case with most sequels somethings aren’t explored that really should be. Beca and Jesse’s (Skyler Austin) relationship seems to be pushed right onto the backburner while Cannon and Banks seem more intent in bringing forward the outlandish comedy that can be obtained with the relationship between Fat Amy and first time round bad guy Bumper’s (Adam DeVine) relationship. The film does miss the serious topics explored in the first film, such as how hard it is for someone to try and live in their parent’s footsteps and doesn’t have a memorable scenes such as Anna Kendrick’s Cup Song from the first time around, but it does deliver a laugh a moment and manages to have a fair say about the music industry with some well written scenes at the recording studio where Beca is interning.
Acting wise it almost seems like Anna Kendrick takes a step back in a franchise that is built around her character. While she is on screen for most of the film most of the memorable comedy moments go straight to Rebel Wilson which seems to be what the filmmakers wanted this time around. Still Kendrick does at times step up to the plate especially with some of her scenes with the talented Hailee Steinfeld, who shows audiences that she can also add comedic acting and singing to her many talents. Is there anything she can’t do?
Pitch Perfect 2 may not quite live up to the greatness of the original film but at least it is different enough to be kept interesting and doesn’t recycle any old storylines. The comedy is certainly ramped up to outrageous and over-the-top and to the film’s credit it does actually work. Rebel Wilson’s rise in Hollywood takes another big step-up but it is perhaps the work of Hailee Steinfeld that this film might be best remembered for. Fans of the franchise may be happy to know that the ending seems to suggest that we may soon have a Steinfeld-led Pitch Perfect 3 on our hands very, very soon.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: 15th May 2015