Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, and Anna Camp
The excellent acapella songs and bonding solidarity of the underdog Barden Bellas was the heart and soul of “Pitch Perfect”. The sequel, with actress Elizabeth Banks taking over directing duties, continues those elements but amps up the stakes and silliness as most sequels of successful films are always guilty of doing. The music is fantastic again, with a wealth of musical material taking unique shape through the voices of talented singers. While the humor doesn’t always connect as easily as the first film and aspects of the narrative stumble when aiming to one-up the situations of the first film, “Pitch Perfect 2” still has head nodding musical arrangements and continues the spirited and comical aspects to make it an enjoyable and worthy sequel.
The Barden Bellas are the acapella national champions, repeating a few more times since the first. During a concert where the President and First Lady are in attendance, a wardrobe malfunction sends the Bellas into a tailspin of negativity in the international spotlight. Suspended from competing in the national competition, the Bellas decide to prove their worth in the acapella ranks again by competing in the world championships. But the end of college life and the beginning of real world responsibilities proves to derail the ambitions of the team.
The usual turns, and sometimes flaws, of sequels are present throughout “Pitch Perfect 2”. Everything needs to be bigger, which the script and characters prove here. The screenplay is crammed with moving parts. Beca (Anna Kendrick) is interning at a music studio and is worried about finding validity as more than just an acapella performer. A new singer named Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) auditions for the Bellas and garners her own side story, Fat Amy is given a love story angle, and a rivalry is introduced between a dominating German team. This all happens amidst numerous musical numbers. So it doesn’t surprise that some characters are given the back seat and some scenes come out of nowhere for no particular purpose. However, this isn’t always a bad thing because the added scenes are welcome additions and are usually assisted with great music. Also, any opportunity for Rebel Wilson to steal a scene with comedy is always appreciated. It helps that the focus of the film never strays to far from what makes it so good, which is the acapella performance and the friendship and goals that keep these young ladies strong.
There are a few unexpected surprises that compliment the story, one being the addition of comedian Keegan-Michael Key, of television sketch comedy show “Key and Peele”, who plays an arrogant record producer. There are also a few that don’t compliment. The international competition angle lacks creativity, with the Germans getting the only foreign spotlight. And, some of the deliberate stereotyping of characters, one of the Bellas specifically, is rarely humorous.
“Pitch Perfect 2” succumbs to some of the pitfalls associated with sequels, but for the most part director Elizabeth Banks maneuvers through or past many of them. Even though the film is busy and sometimes disorganized, the playfulness is always elevated and the result is a purely entertaining acapella experience.
3.50 out of 5.00