UK Release Date: 15th May 2015
Runtime: 115 minutes
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Ben Platt, Flula Borg
Synopsis: Banned from acapella competition, the Barden Bellas pledge to win the world championships to clear their name and be reinstated.
From humble beginnings, Pitch Perfect became one of the biggest sleeper hits of 2012, scooping up an ample box office. At a time when Glee dominated the TV zeitgeist, the tale of Anna Kendrick’s journey into a bitchy acapella group was the show’s snarkier, cooler cousin. The inevitable sequel shakes things up a little and, despite a few bum notes, continues to sing in harmony.
After a wardrobe malfunction from Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) draws severe negative headlines, the Bellas are banned from public appearances. Their leader, Beca (Kendrick), manages to negotiate a deal that the Bellas will be reinstated if they can win the world championship. In order to do so, they must beat German group Das Sound Machine, led by Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen). They are helped out by new member Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), even as Beca’s secret record label internship threatens to unbalance the group.
Pitch Perfect 2 was always going to run into problems. At the time of the first film, Glee was popular enough to be a suitable target for satire. Now, though, Ryan Murphy’s show has reached its conclusion, several years after most of the audience stopped following it. As a result, Pitch Perfect 2 lacks the zeitgeisty feel of the first film, losing a great deal of its bite as a result.
| "Ladders represent a social hierarchy that’s counter-productive to what we’re trying to do here."
However, the film’s true asset is the chemistry between its cast and the exuberance of its performances. Anna Kendrick is once again the glue that holds the film together as the quick-witted Beca. A brilliant recurring joke has her struggling to trash talk Birgitte Hjort Sørensen’s rival acapella queen due to her devastating attractiveness. The rest of the returning Bellas are equally strong, with Rebel Wilson again proving her chops as a true star of modern comedy with a perfect balance of physicality and verbal wit.
The new characters in Pitch Perfect 2, however, are something of a mixed bag. Sørensen is sensational and Hailee Steinfeld radiates innocence, in a similar shy musician role to her stirring work in Begin Again. Her tender romance with Ben Platt’s Benji is an underplayed sub-plot that should have been spotlighted a little more. On the other hand, some of the new Bellas are shown as nothing more than crude stereotypes. In particular, a Guatemalan member of the group is given little to do other than deliver crushingly awkward jokes about the horrors of her birth country.
On the musical side of things, Pitch Perfect 2 turns everything up a notch. All of the ideas that worked in the first film are cranked up to eleven, with varying degrees of success. An extended version of the Riff-Off and a campfire reprisal of the ‘Cups’ song are effortlessly entertaining, but the mash-up idea becomes tired and exhausted by the midway point.
| "Your sweat smells like cinnamon."
Elizabeth Banks, adding directorial duties to her scene-stealing turn as part of the acapella commentating duo, is a solid presence behind the camera. Visually, the film is impressive and the performers thrive in the relaxed atmosphere, but there are a few too many story threads to juggle, leaving several intriguing plots sidelined or left frustratingly incomplete.
Thankfully, though, Pitch Perfect 2 works despite its flaws. There’s enough heart and enthusiasm in the cast to paper over the narrative cracks and more than enough genuine humour to mask the fact that this is now a bona fide franchise rather than the cool new kid on the block.
Pop or Poop?
The buzz and modernity may have gone from the Pitch Perfect story, but Pitch Perfect 2 is still a wildly entertaining comedy with some excellent musical numbers.
Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson make for an excellent comedy double act, with Hailee Steinfeld a worthy new addition to the exuberant ensemble who could potentially anchor a sequel.
In Pitch Perfect 2, some of the magic is gone, but all of the ingredients are there.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.