Pitch Perfect 2 Review
Sequels are a tricky undertaking. When a follow-up movie fails to impress it’s usually because of one of two reasons. Either it’s simply a remake of the first except the laughs/thrills/surprises are less because you’ve seen them all before, or it’s so removed from the original it jars with fans and makes no sense. Pitch Perfect 2 surprisingly manages to avoid both pitfalls, combining everything audiences loved about the original, with new songs, stories and jokes that actually move the plot forward in an interesting and thoroughly entertaining way.
Four years on from the original film and Beca and the rest of the Barden Bellas are in their final year of university and at the height of their a cappella success. After winning the ICCA championships three times in a row they are due to sing for President Obama on his birthday but in true Bellas style things don’t go quite to plan as Fat Amy ends up ‘exposing’ herself. Publically humiliated the girls return to school to find their singing group effectively disbanded by the Dean.
With their success tour taken away and unable to audition for any new Bellas, it looks like things are over for the all-girl group until they realise no-one can stop them from competing in the World Championships. In the hopes of restoring their good name, they enter the ultimate a cappella competition to face off against the world’s best groups and become the first American team to win.
If this all sounds good to you but not much different from the original, then don’t worry. The Bellas face more than just winning another competition in round 2 as they come up against real life problems about leaving school and more. While Beca hides her new internship from her friends, Chloe is ready to fail yet another year of college, Fat Amy is having relationship issues and the whole group has gotten carried away with their fame and forgotten what a cappella singing is all about.
While all the familiar faces from the first film make a welcome return, new blood is introduced in the form of legacy Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld. The True Grit star does an excellent job of portraying the slightly-weird-but-definitely-Bella-kind-of-weird new girl, and the character is well developed and doesn’t just sit on the side lines and follow the usual supporting cast MO. Anna Kendrick returns as Beca with her dry sense of humour and understated enthusiasm, but audiences will notice a change as she’s become more comfortable with herself, which Kendrick depicts with subtle ease.
Brittany Snow’s Chloe has stepped into Aubrey’s slightly obsessive shoes as she struggles to keep the group going, while the outstanding Rebel Wilson keeps up her blunt but hilarious depiction of Fat Amy. The rest of the original cast also return with Anna Camp (Aubrey), Adam DeVine (Bumper), Skylar Astin (Jessie) and Ben Platt (Benji) all taking on supporting roles. But the most welcome return has to be Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the hilariously inappropriate a cappella commentators.
The duo take every opportunity to bring their hilarity to the screen and it’s more than welcome as John’s misogynistic comments and Gail’s inappropriate rants are funnier than ever. Not content with simply producing and starring in the sequel, Banks also takes on directing this time round (Jason Moore walked away to direct the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey comedy Sisters), which could have gone one of two ways. Fans needn’t have worried though as she’s certainly proved her directing chops with the sequel.
The Treblemakers haven’t been entirely forgotten either but they do take a backseat to let a new ‘villain’ take centre stage in the form of German a cappella group, Das Sound Machine. Fronted by the hilarious Birgitte Hjort-Sørensen and Flula Borg they think the Bellas are just messing around while they’re in school whereas they sing for a living. Teaming their efficient a cappella routines with a bitchiness that would make Mean Girls’ Regina George whimper; they more than meet the challenge of becoming the Bellas’ new arch nemesis.
Although a stunning sequel by all accounts, Pitch Perfect 2 doesn’t quite manage to avoid repetition completely as the a cappella battle scene is included once again but in a rather bizarre and never fully explained context. Also, things get wrapped up a bit too nicely for Beca at her music internship in a way, which feels rushed after the amount of anguish it’s given her.
Having said that, it doesn’t even come close to ruining what is by all accounts an extremely successful second outing for the Bellas. A riot from start to finish, you’ll be spending half your time dancing in your seat and the other half falling out of it laughing. With an interesting new storyline that actually moves the characters forward, and loads of epic a cappella covers of Bootylicious, Run The World (Girls) and more, what’s not to love about Pitch Perfect 2? Go watch it Pitches!