Two things are certain after watching Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the 2012 surprise cult classic Pitch Perfect: It’s not as smart or as good as the first and Rebel Wilson is a fantastic comedic actress that makes any movie better.
The Barden Bellas are back and many of them in their senior year of college. After a truly embarrassing performance at the Kennedy Center where Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) accidentally mooned the entire audience where the President and First Lady were present, the Bellas returned to campus with a Capella commentators Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) threatening to suspend them. Beca (Anna Kendrick), who has put her internship at a legit recording label ahead of her commitment to the Bellas, suggests that if they win the International a Capella Championship in Copenhagen that they should be reinstated. After a few laughs and giggles Gail and John agree.
With major competition ahead against German a Capella group Das Sound Machine, the Bellas must reconnect as a group and find their voice again in order to win the championship. But with graduation just around the corner, Beca is struggling to live her dream working at a record label, Chloe (Brittany Snow) is petrified of life outside college and the Bellas, and Amy is still secretly swooning over hook-up buddy Bumper (Adam DeVine), the ladies have several distractions that are preventing them from getting back to the top.
Elizabeth Banks steps up to direct her first feature length film and she provides a solid sequel. But the first film is so good and memorable that it seems almost impossible for any director to step up to the plate and make the sequel better than the first.
About the actual film, ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ wasn’t laugh out loud hysterical, but it was never boring. Some of the jokes fell a little flat, but director Elizabeth Banks never lingered too long on any of the jokes. Chrissie Marie Fit, plays a Bella from Guatemala whose sole purpose seems to be to make pale imitations of the jokes made by Gloria Pritchett on ‘Modern Family.’ Some of the ensemble cast could have been more developed, but they were all fun to watch. Hailee Steinfeld, who is one of the best actresses in her generation made a great addition to the cast as a freshman legacy member. Her mother, played by Katey Sagal (who has plenty of great lines in her limited screen time) was a legendary Bella from the 80s. It was good to see Hailee Steinfeld share some screen time with another great young actress Anna Kendrick.
While a lot of the film is pretty silly, it actually has some good themes about facing and overcoming fears. Ana Kendrick’s Beca is trying to have a career as a producer. She is afraid to tell the other Bellas about her internship. When her boss offers some frank criticisms of her mash-ups, she begins to doubt that she can achieve her dreams. Brittany Snow’s Cloe Wilson is so afraid of life after the Bellas that she deliberately failed Russian Literature three times so she wouldn’t graduate. Rebel Wilson has an entire subplot about facing her own fears, and it has nothing to do with a mishap in the first five minutes of the film. There is also plenty of commentary on sexist double standards. The Bella’s get a lot of backlash for an incident that was an accident, while a few scenes later the Treblemakers perform some songs with vulgar messages at Freshmen orientation.
Pitch Perfect 2 has some sweet songs including the “Cups” reprise and the a Capella battle between the four groups is quite good, but nothing touches the final number in the first film featuring “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
There is a nice emotional quality to the film’s climax. It was just surprisingly touching without being saccharinely. This film is a good option for people who just want to be entirely entertained without having to check their brains at the door. It’s a refreshing change from the sea of unfunny comedies this year. It’s not the greatest or most original movie ever, but it’s enjoyable.
If you’re a fan of the Pitches, absolutely see this film in theatres with friends to make it all the merrier. The Bellas are back in full form and fans of Rebel Wilson will be thrilled with how much she is highlighted throughout. Banks had a nearly impossible feat to match the originality and splendor of the first film, but her sequel is fun, silly and musically delicious.