Pitch Perfect 2 Directed by Elizabeth Banks Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson & Elizabeth Banks
Review by Chris Olson
Set in an imaginary world where a cappella is immensely popular, Pitch Perfect 2 picks up the microphone after the mic drop that was Pitch Perfect (2012), where mash-ups and throw-downs created a dizzyingly popular mainstream hit. This encore from Elizabeth Banks fails to carry the tune with a more interesting sequel, instead opting for a playlist of pop song sequences that is more karaoke than cool.
Beca (Anna Kendrick) is in her last year of college, interning at a hipster record label and hoping to move on from her singing group, the Barden Bells, imminently. And after a disastrous performance in front of an esteemed audience (which included Barack O’bama), in which Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) nether regions were exposed and the group are put on ice by their college professors, it seems Beca’s hopes could easily be realised.
Loopholes are found though, and soon the plot is back on a familiar trajectory as the Bells take their tunes to Europe, hoping to compete in another a cappella competition, in order to restore their reputation. Joining the ranks is Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), daughter of a Bell legend, whose “original songs” threaten the way of life of these instrument-less vocalists who heavily rely on covers.
A sequel was pretty unnecessary, but audiences were excited to return to the fun world of girl power ballads, and spunky pop mash ups, with the likable cast of oddball outcasts led by Kendrick. The disappointment with Pitch Perfect 2 is that it keeps its strengths hidden by the endless montages of unlikely sing-offs, performed by a melting pot of clueless young adults. Banks, perhaps at the behest of studio execs, opts for lots of songs loosely strung together with the thinnest of plot threads, without trudging the more difficult path of a compelling story. Kendrick is given her music career subplot, but this is superficial and ultimately ends up following a similar structure to a singing competition.
All that being said, Pitch Perfect 2 does hit some nice notes along the way. The musical set pieces are well formulated and will appeal strongly to a younger demographic, with some entertaining goofs. Rebel Wilson throws in her tried-and-tested comedy, although the Fat Amy persona, ironically, wears a little thin by the end. Kendrick is her usual brilliant self, although seems lost amongst the noise and clamour.
Pitched to a younger audience, this second outing lacked the charm and originality of the first Pitch Perfect. With such an arsenal of acting talent and popularity, it seems a shame the franchise moved into familiar sequel territory of shallow theatrics. If a second encore happens, it will be likely that the players will be returning to a much diminished audience.
Pitch Perfect 2 is out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK September 21.