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Pitch Perfect 2

May 13, 2015

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia


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2012’s surprise hit Pitch Perfect returns with its anticipated sequel and all eyes are on the Barden Bellas to see if they’ll capture the same magic of the first movie. Does Pitch Perfect 2 manage to re-capture the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of its predecessor or does it fall into the doomed territory of a rushed cash-grabbing sequel?

Before Pitch Perfect was released and had become the cultural phenomenon it is now, I remember seeing a poster for it and thinking that the film – seemingly a hybrid knock off of High School Musical and Glee – was a generic Hollywood vehicle trying to cling on to a current ‘hot trend’ that seemed to be well on the way out, if not already long over (side note: speaking of generic Hollywood musicals, I’m still waiting for that Grease remake with Jessica Simpson… 2007’s rumours were a hoot!). I do have a love/hate relationship with musicals, yet the film proved me wrong: a refreshingly brilliant female-driven comedy and its worldwide success speaks for itself.

Pitch Perfect 2 picks up with the Bellas all now college seniors (including Britney Snow’s Chloe who has repeatedly failed classes so has not graduated hence stays a Bella for a few more years) as reigning national ACA (A Cappella) champions. Opening with a performance for none other than the US President himself, the Bellas go quickly from hero to zero after a major wardrobe malfunction makes them once again underdogs with everything to prove in order to get back on top.

Their national tour is given to Europe’s ACA-champions – German super group Das Sound Machine – and to make matters worse the Bellas are banned from taking on any new recruits which could mean the end of the female A Capella group. Their one chance to redeem themselves and their legacy is to win the A Capella World Champions in Copenhagen which they’re told (much like the UK in Eurovision) ‘America has no chance of winning’.

From then on it’s a series of unfortunate events for the Bellas, trying to compete with their German rivals which results in completely losing their identity (stay true to yourself kids!). Going to what starts off as a disastrous boot camp allows the Bellas to find themselves back as a group and more importantly regain with their sound, giving the audience a chance to spend time with Aubrey (Anna Camp), our favourite Bella who actually graduated and is now the boot camp’s program director.

On paper Pitch Perfect 2 shouldn’t work. What makes the film great is its quick-witted humour, and its returning stellar ensemble cast led by Oscar nominee and force-to-be-reckoned-with Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air, 50/50 and Hollywood’s go-to musical gal) and Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Bachelorette and Hollywod’s go-to funny gal).

The sequel brings newbies Emily (Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit) as a Bella legacy (the loophole they need to recruit a new member) and her mother Katherine (played by the legend that is Katey Sagal, (Married With Children, Sons Of Anarchy) as a Bella of yesteryear with a five-octave vocal range.

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Scene-stealing co-star and producer of the first film Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, The Lego Movie, Wet Hot American Summer) returns proving herself a power-house and helming the film as director this time, marking her feature directorial debut.

There are some general faults that are expected from a sequel since a few moments seem forced, trying a tad too hard to repeat the laughs from the first one, but these are all minor and don’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the film. The positive here is that with our core characters already established, we get a bunch of subplots which create nice moments to jump to alongside the film’s main narrative. Banks and her team have managed to cram lots in without feeling choppy or uneven.

If you didn’t enjoy the first film, obviously this isn’t for you but dear fans, Pitch Perfect 2 is bigger and a hell of a lot of fun. Start warming up those vocal chords, you’re in for a real treat!

Pitch Perfect 2 is released in UK cinemas on May 15th

Joel Babbington