Hey there all you Aca-people. It’s finally here. A sequel that isn’t about superheroes, aging action stars, or made 20 years too late. That in itself is a reason to see it but I’ll give you more.
Pitch Perfect 2 brings back the overwhelming majority of the previous cast and sees the triumphant Barden University Bellas, fresh off two more national a capella victories. Thanks to a wardrobe malfunction while performing for President Obama, they’re publicly ridiculed and faced with disbarment from the competition scene, with a win at the World A Capella Championships the only thing that can restore their good name. There are also subplots of Beca (Anna Kendrick) seeking a foothold in the music industry, a new member (Hailee Steinfeld) joining the group, the typical “us against the world” notion in the Bellas fight against the German phenomena of Das Sound Machine, and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and Bumper (Adam DeVine) possibly taking their down low booty call out into the open.
Okay, so the plot and everything underneath is generic. It was the first time too. That doesn’t matter. Pitch Perfect 2 has something that too many films forget to inject into their digital celluloid: FUN. (No, not that awful hipster music group … actual fun.)
First off, I have to give major credit to actor/producer/director Elizabeth Banks and the casting department for bringing in so many talented comedians to round out the supporting cast. While I was very sorry to see that Donald Faison was no longer in the Tonehangers (a hilarious group of former a capella performers), adding in Reggie Watts made for a hilarious beat box battle with one of the members of Das Sound Machine. Also, adding YouTube sensation Flula Borg to the German squad was just fantastic (seriously, if you haven’t seen his Auto Tunes or his interviews with celebrities, you are missing out on some of the weirdest and funniest stuff).
Then there’s simply the genius of what Das Sound Machine brings to the table. They are a frighteningly precise and overwhelming musical force that steals the show every time they perform. They make a Fallout Boy song entertaining. FALLOUT BOY! That alone makes me shake my head at how much this sequel won me over. There’s also a running joke about Beca being infatuated with the leader of the German team and failing spectacularly to insult her which continues to make me laugh long after I’ve left the theater.
Really, the biggest misstep is continuing to portray Beca’s boyfriend (Skylar Astin) as a one dimensional cheerleader. He’s basically the perfect support system and only shows up when Beca is needing a pick me up speech. That being said, that’s kind of how so many girlfriend roles are written in most male-dominated films so whether this is an intentional middle finger to the system or an oversight, I can’t really tell (and if it’s the former I tip my hat to the screenwriters).
But even with that said, Pitch Perfect 2 does something that so rarely happens … it’s better than the first film. For those who know how much I loved the original, I realize that’s high praise but I think it’s well deserved. While there are a lot of subplots, they all get their due time to allow for resolution, the jokes come fast and often, and there is very little downtime from start to finish. Sure, this works better if you’ve seen the original, but don’t feel that you can’t join in if you somehow missed it. I saw this with two friends, one who loved the first installment like I did, and another who hadn’t seen it. We all came out of the movie raving about what just happened and anxiously awaiting the home market release so we could see it again (though I’ll be headed to the theaters as well).
I’m guessing that this is going to do very well at the box office and the question will become whether or not a Pitch Perfect 3 will eventually come to fruition. My cynical side wants to say that everyone involved should quit while they’re ahead but considering I was firmly against the idea of this sequel since the first film seemed like such a well contained and complete journey, I suppose we’ll all just have to see if there’s more for the Bellas to do. And for those headed to theaters, make sure to stay in your seats, there’s an extra scene in the credits that you won’t want to miss.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for innuendo and language
Running time: 2 hours
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