Release Date: May 15, 2015
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon, Mikey Rapkin
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Katey Sagal, Anna Camp, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Flula Borg, Kelley Jakle, Shelley Regner, John Hodgman, Jason Jones
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 115 minutes
Production Company: Universal Pictures, Brownstone Productions, Gold Circle Films
Genre: Comedy, Music
In 2012, director Jason Moore surprised the world with the beautiful voices of the Barden Bellas. Pitch Perfect was, in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece crafted with a great plot, characters, and musical numbers that made me sing and dance in my living room along with the collegiate superheroes. The movie came out of nowhere, and with positive word of mouth, gained enough of a following to warrant a well-deserved sequel.
This time around, Mr. Moore didn’t return to the director’s chair, but passed the torch to the hilarious Elizabeth Banks, who also stars in both films. There aren’t too many women behind the camera in Hollywood today, and her involvement in the second installment could start a trend of diversity that is decades late in development.
In Pitch Perfect 2, the fun begins even before the opening credits starting rolling. You’re thrown back into the world of these a cappella warriors, and they’re ready to do battle. That’s the great thing about it: the absence of any introduction to the characters we already know and love. What’s to love is the comedy and chemistry these women share, because they honestly feel like a genuine group who care and work hard together. Right from the opening scene, you may already be in tears of joy.
One thing to note about the jokes is that they’re a bit more on the nose than the last time. While it’s still funny, the comedy is stretched out a bit more, and becomes sexist and racist at times. Now this behavior is spread across the board for equally, but some people who are sensitive may not have a preference for this kind of humor. The jokes go on for much longer, and one scene in particular with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is extremely long. In its genesis, the joke seems a little ridiculous, but you learn to accept it for what it is. You laugh non-stop from beginning to end.
The greatest highlight of the film by far is the song performances. The team that put this section together is incredibly creative and talented. And this isn’t just a group of people standing on a stage singing popular hits. The story finds creative ways to incorporate the songs into the film as something more compelling. The music created by mouths seems magical. It’s amazing how real it sounds without a single instrument being used. It speaks volumes when you find you’re tapping your feet at the combination of voices blending perfectly together. It’s amazing to the point where you’re running out of the theater to turn on your phone and download the soundtrack so that you can listen to it on the way home.
The first time around, in Pitch Perfect, you had multiple main characters. Beca (Anna Kendrick) of course is the main character, but she has competition from the male side, who not only serves as a worthy adversary on stage, but also serves as a companion for love and helps move the story along. The villains of the first film, if any, are the Barden Bellas themselves, as they compete to grow into stronger women. Pitch Perfect tells two different stories that don’t get in the way of each other, and come together seamlessly towards the end. That cohesiveness isn’t present this time around, in the sequel.
As much as I loved Pitch Perfect 2, it still does have its flaws. This time around we have the Germans, whom we only get to know on stage, and the main objective is laughter. The other aspect is a new character who isn’t worthy of looking up but is considered a legacy at Barden University. She is shoehorned in not destroying the plot of the film, but she does not help it either. The story does come around full circle with her involvement, but there isn’t anything special worth mentioning.
Another problem I had was with the climax of the film. The last two performances of the first film were amazing and brought something out of the viewer’s soul that they probably never even knew was there. What made Pitch Perfect so fantastic were popular songs everyone knew and loved with an a cappella twist to them that was new and fresh. This time, the climax has an original song that no one can sing along with, and this is a little disappointing.
Overall, I thought Pitch Perfect 2 was a great film, but it didn’t have all the magic of the first movie. When the plot isn’t moving along to serve the overall story or the end game, there are just filler scenes of girls having extended pillow fights, bland dialogue at a camp site, or an extended joke that runs on too long. The movie tries to make you think that these are great moments of character development, but in reality, they are just an excuse to make a worthy runtime.
When Pitch Perfect came out, I ran to tell all my friends that they had to see the film; this time I don’t have the same enthusiasm. But I thought the first film was nearly a perfect 10/10, so even if the sequel falls short, it still deserves praise.