Pitch Perfect 2 – Movie Review

Pitch Perfect 2Pitch Perfect 2 – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 15 May 2015

In Pitch Perfect 2, the Barden Bellas are banned from their tour and from recruiting new members after a wardrobe malfunction in front of the president. It’s a similar scene to the opening of Pitch Perfect, where Aubrey (Anna Camp) projectile vomited and ruined their routine and reputation. It’s the first of many overt callbacks to the first film, as well as the beginning of a pattern of pushing Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) to center stage.

Pitch Perfect was something of a sleeper hit that managed to find an audience outside of those who would normally see a movie about an a capella competition. It worked because it had a balanced sense of humor mixed in with lead character Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) ability to mix multiple songs together. Beca was a DJ mash-up artist and she brought this skill to bear on creating a capella routines where the group was singing two or three songs at a time.

In Pitch Perfect 2, Beca is an intern for a record producer and is told point-blank that mash-ups are worthless. If she wants to be a producer, she has to create something original. And yet, the two best musical moments in the film involve her mash-ups.

Hailee Steinfeld is introduced as a legacy member named Emily whose mother (Katey Sagal) has built up her years with the Barden Bellas a capella group as the best of her life. Emily is an original songwriter, and though it’s obvious that she and Beca need each other the plot frustratingly delays their inevitable collaboration. In this way, Emily is something of a pale replacement in the story for what Beca’s character was doing in the first.

This leads us to the humor which is almost all done for shock value as a kind of winking poor taste. We expect this sort of stuff from John Michael Higgins’ over-the-top commentator character, but this time director Elizabeth Banks’ Gail also gets in on the racism. The stereotypes are no longer limited to the singers – there’s a whole world competition to make fun of here. “Nobody cares about the Koreans” is an actual punchline.

Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy was a solid comic relief character behind the last movie’s central conflict between Beca and Aubrey, but here she’s pushed to the front and has to carry too much of the movie to be comic relief. The rest of the characters get extremely limited screen time, and only a single bonding sequence that finally brings Aubrey back actually has the feel of the original’s heart. When the ensemble is working together instead of just cracking jokes the movie works.

Pitch Perfect 2 feels like a shadow of its predecessor and felt longer to sit through than it’s extreme 115-minute runtime. If you loved the first one because it was a great performance competition movie with some humor, you’re likely to enjoy Pitch Perfect 2. But if, like me, Pitch Perfect crept up on you and managed to win you over it’s best to leave this one alone.

Amber, Aaron, Bess, Kylie, Rose and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car:

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