Pitch Perfect was one of those movies that just understood the generation it was reaching out to in a way few teen/college movies have in the last decade. It was witty, smart, funny, had catchy music, and genuine in all the right places, which means it made a lot of money. It also means they absolutely had to make a sub-par sequel.
Let’s take a look at Pitch Perfect 2.
The plot finds the Barden Bellas after three years of winning championships until a disastrous performance gets them banned from competing in the nationals. Loophole of loopholes, they can compete in the world competition because that’s how suspensions work. They are up against tough competition from the German team, Das Sound Machine who are incredibly in sync. However, as hard as they try, the team is falling apart at seams as Beca gets an important internship, and are desperately trying to keep it all together while the uncertainty of the future looms.
I have to say that the weakest aspect of the plot was all the romances. No, Beca’s romance is not put into danger or anything because that might be interesting or made us care. Instead we get a 21 year old senior Benji (the dork who did magic tricks from the first movie) hitting on the 18 year old freshman Emily, which if you’ve ever been to college, you would know there typically is a huge difference in maturity therefore a little creepy. And while I always support giving the plus sized lady a romantic subplot, Fat Amy’s romance with Bumper is so ridiculous and shoe-horned in, it felt more like a pandering annoyance than an actual character development. The rest of the plot feels cobbled together in pieces with the flimiest of strings, with no flow in-between them, especially since there a ton of huge time jumps that never get addressed.
That’s not to say that all of the pieces are bad, as there is good comedic set ups to be found in the film. The musical set pieces are great and show off a lot of vocal range for the different characters, as well as some fun choreography. The soundtrack is going to be another hit, but sometimes the songs are the only saving grace for long stretches of time. It also felt as though they were trying to follow the same formula as the first movie: the awkward group getting to know each other, the training montage, the failure at the secret singing meet, poor performances before trying something altogether different and ultimately winning. It was like they realized that you couldn’t hold movie together with just aca-puns and well thought out musical numbers, so just copy-pasted the same format and figured good pacing was for chumps.
The acting and singing are all still on par with the first film. I was surprised that Lilly was was pushed into the background, what with her crazy whispering and all being so popular. Flo, played by Chrissie Fit, is a real show stealer, constantly reminding the group how things could be much worse considering the terrible (and stereotypical) life she knew before the Bellas. Hailee Steineld didn’t shine for me as the latest Bella, mostly because they were so busy with their thirty other subplots they forgot to give her much of a character. Keegan-Michael Key as Beca’s crazy music producer boss, however, was probably the funniest and sharpest performance in the film. The German team really only had two main characters, Pieter and Kommissar, which is a shame since they were so much fun but also could have used some backup in their antagonist roles.
In terms of how the film looked, there’s a bigger world to explore in this time around which makes the universe of the Bellas feel more expansive and well-rounded. Bigger sets, more locations, and diverse lightings made for a visually interesting film with lots of color splashed around. Unfortunately, more money does not equal better quality, meaning that having pretty looking sets does nothing when characters are bouncing around from on place to another every few minutes.
All in all, Pitch Perfect 2 is a fun film that manages to give us some new laughs but in many ways can’t replicate the magic that made the first one so charming. Still, it’s entertaining and great to veg out to with your friends in toe and enjoying the high musical quality. And, hey, at least there’s no more vomit jokes in this one, which otherwise would have made this film aca-unforgivable.
– Good music.
– Good cinematography.
– Fun villains and characters.
– Poorly assembled plot.
– Issues with pacing.