Pitch Perfect 2, 2015
dir. Elizabeth Banks
Let’s begin with this: it was better than I was expecting, but I was still underwhelmed by most of it.
If you recall, I reviewed Pitch Perfect when it first came out in 2012 and gave it a five-star review. It was such a wonderful ensemble comedy, perfectly balanced, cleverly edited and pieced together, with catchy tunes and fun characters. And while there is certainly an element of that on this sequel, there is also a lot lacking.
As the feature film directorial debut of Elizabeth Banks, it is a somewhat respectable effort, but the overall pacing of it felt awkward, like the story didn’t know where it wanted to go and how fast it wanted to go there. Most of the film felt like a set up rather than actual plot development, and the stories themselves were far too many. There was Fat Amy’s arc, the New Girl arc (character played by Hailee Steinfelt, whose talents are somewhat wasted in this sea of People Trying to be Funny), then there’s the Beca Wants a Life Outside of A cappella arc which coincided with the underdeveloped Chloe arc. Meanwhile, many characters who were so interesting and fun in the previous film (Jesse, Benji, Cynthia Rose, Lilly…) are just there for background quips and don’t actually add anything of importance to the plot, meanwhile we get the same old humour from Fat Amy which is really not funny anymore because it feels like Rebel Wilson is just beating a dead horse by this point.
All of which brings us to the writing. The film was written by Kay Cannon, who is behind the original Pitch Perfect, and also a few episodes of 30 Rock and New Girl, which is why it’s so strange that this film seems so out of place. There are some jokes that are just plain offensive, and it puzzles me how they made it into the movie (everything Flo, the Guatemalan Bella said, which was essentially “jokes” about immigrants, about the conditions of illegal immigrants, as if it were funny), especially seeing as the original film had cleverer and more subversive humour.
Something that also hurt the film was the quality of the songs chosen. From the opening number to the Bellas’s World Competition performance, the song choices were weak and, again, underwhelming. They lacked that spark which was so captivating about the original film. In fact, I can’t actually recall any of the songs sung by either the Bellas or the Trebles, and It’s been four hours since I left the cinema. Ironically, the antagonists, the German a cappella group Das Sound Machine (coolest group name ever) had the best songs and the best performances of the entire film. They were dynamic, fun, catchy, and the music choices were much much better.
The best parts of the film were, actually, the interactions between the Bellas and DSM. The two leaders of DSM were condescending and mocking, while Beca struggled to come up with comebacks because the lead singer Kommissar was too attractive.
It’s really a shame that I have to keep comparing this film to the original, but the way I see it, why bother making a sequel if it’s not going to be of equal or superior quality to the first one? Without the spirit and freshness of Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2 will most certainly live in the shadow of its precursor and suffer from trying to go too big and failing to succeed.
review by Mariana Duarte