Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2: Movie Review


A fitting follow-up to the original and the girl power that got them here.
Three years later, the Barden Bellas are a huge success. Three straight national championships, the toast of Barden University, now performing for President Obama. Pitch Perfect 2 opens with a cheesy but funny performance editing in real shots of the president. Fat Amy's grand entrance doesn't go as planned and late night comics are using her in their opening monologue puns. They've been stripped of their country-wide tour and have one last shot at the world championships otherwise the Barden Bellas will no longer exist. 2015

Directed by: Elizabeth Banks

Screenplay by: Kay Cannon
Based on the book by Mickey Rapkin

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Hailee Steinfeld

The storylines are about upheaval and adapting to change, but the movie itself keeps everything as close to the original as possible. John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks are back as the misogynistic commentators and John's '50s-styled insults of women are right on par. Jesse and Beca are still together, Benji is still performing magic tricks, Bumper and Amy still have a denied attraction. Even Chloe is back after purposely failing to graduate three years in a row.

The humour is the same with Fat Amy and Cynthia Rose exchanging the same types of retorts they would have made in the first movie. It also has the same mash-ups of popular songs and a very well executed riff-off featuring the Bellas, the Treble Makers, the Tonehangers, and their new German rivals Das Sound Machine. The Germans love insulting the Bellas and Beca's inability to come up with comebacks works well.

Another new addition is Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) who is joining the Bellas since her mother used to be one. Emily does have a number of storylines, but she luckily doesn't steal focus from the original Bellas who we fell in love with. The final new additions include a new storyline for Beca who feels like she's abandoning the Bellas to prepare for life after college. She's an intern for a music producer and her fellow interns and new boss are surprisingly funny and fit in well with the tone of the movie.

The few missteps include the returning Bellas which aren't really returning Bellas. Stacie is back but Alexis Knapp has changed her appearance so much you wouldn't be able to recognize her, and even though Stacie says the same flirtatious stuff she originally said, it just doesn't come across the same at all. There's also a new member to the original Bellas (and I think that statement alone shows how wrong that is) who is a Mexican immigrant and likes explaining how much worse life should be. There's also the background Bellas whose names and presence can never be remembered; a joke that doesn't remain funny after its twentieth telling.

Overall Pitch Perfect 2 finds the same balance between plot and music as the original one did and while the new romances (Benji and Emily, Bumper and Amy) don't have the same emotional punch that Jesse and Beca had, they're still very cute. But speaking of Jesse, this movie just didn't have enough of him. He had a few scenes but nothing that made him one of the best romantic protagonists of recent years. Throughout, it's still funny, and still familiar even if it never ups the ante, but they know it's the ending that matters and the Barden Bellas sign off with a song that pays tribute to why they got a sequel in the first place - the large female cast of diverse characters enjoyed by a female audience.

Similar Titles:

Pitch Perfect (2012) - Romance to cheer for, low-grade comedy, but musical numbers both predictable and perfect.