Review: Pitch Perfect 2
They’re back, pitches! Three years since the release of the sleeper hit Pitch Perfect, the members of the all female a capella group the Barden Bellas (played by Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jackle, and Shelley Regner, respectively) have returned for Pitch Perfect 2. Marking the feature directorial debut of actress Elizabeth Banks (pulling double duty as returning comical commentator Gail), the film is a narrative beat for beat copy of the first film yet lacking in its spunky energy until its midway point. Fans of the first film (and its potent message of female camaraderie and empowered individualism) will be pleased with the sequel overall and those new to the series will, at the very least, want to share the a ca-mazing experience with their closest gal pals.
Beginning with a gala performance for Barack and Michelle Obama, the film is quick to inform the audience that, since the winning performance by the Bellas at the close of Pitch Perfect, they’ve gone on to score three consecutive titles. After a disastrous wardrobe malfunction by Fat Amy/Patricia (Rebel Wilson, whose role has been amplified since her memorable supporting turn in the first film), however, the group is penalized from performing on their showcase tour. In order to be reinstated they must win the a capella world championship in Copenhagen, a title which has never been captured by an American ensemble. Their stiffest competition are the German group Das Sound Machine (led by the scenery chewing Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Pieter Krämer), a moodier version of Glee‘s Vocal Adrenaline. Prior to the finale they recruit newcomer Emily (a peppy Hailee Steinfeld), reunite with the graduated Aubrey (fan favorite Anna Camp), continue their romantic escapades with Bumper (Adam DeVine), Jesse (Skylar Astin), and magician Benji (Ben Platt) gets a charming love story of his own.
Unfortunately, barring Rebel Wilson’s uproarious romantic subplot (replete with the film’s most memorable singing number and an amusing Midnight Cowboy riff), the other narrative strands are pitch imperfect. Much like the first film, so too does this one lag noticeably when the Bellas aren’t singing or bonding as a harmonious unit. Singled out and without any tension (it’s a foregone conclusion how it will all end up), Beca (Anna Kendrick)’s time working as a music producer’s intern and Emily’s passion for songwriting are just dull exposition.
Thankfully, once the group finds its voice, the film does as well, and it’s nonstop fun from there. Aca believe it!