Watching Pitch Perfect 2 is like watching a live performance of the Barden Bellas, or any all-female a capella group with movie star good looks. Their debut outing in the first movie was aca-awesome and “toner”-worthy. By round two, the novelty has worn off and the performance is nothing memorable, even if it is still entertaining.
But let’s be real: any group (a capella or otherwise) with a membership that includes Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow – and did we say Rebel Wilson? – is certainly one worth paying to hang out with for two hours.
MINI-SPOILER MARK: Minor plot details discussed beyond this point. No major spoilers revealed.
Three years after the Barden Bellas won their first national collegiate title, the three-time defending champions are featured in a birthday performance for POTUS and a Washington, D.C. crowd. They are veterans by now, radiating talent and fully confident onstage where nothing can go wrong… until Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) “came in like a wrecking ball” and a wardrobe malfunction exposes her genitalia to a national audience. With the somewhat good name of college a capella smeared, the Bellas are suspended from intercollegiate competition.
Chloe (Brittany Snow) realises that the Bellas can still compete in the World Championships for which they have already qualified, and the team sets out to defeat German powerhouse Das Sound Machine (DSM; led by Birgitte Hjort Sorensen and Flula Borg). Meanwhile, Beca (Anna Kendrick) becomes overwhelmed with work when she simultaneously pursues her dream of becoming a music producer via an internship at a record label. The Bellas also welcome a new addition in the form of unfortunately-named legacy Emily Junk-Hardon (Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld). Obsessed with defeating the flashy DSM, the Bellas unsuccessfully experiment with their performances before realising that they must rediscover the “sound” that helped them succeed three years ago.
When the Bellas have been ruling the vocal scene for several years, it is fitting that their performances are technically better. Mash-ups arranged by the talented Beca have become their jam, and harmonising onstage has become second nature to them. Strangely enough, it is precisely because their performances are now so clean, modern and high standard that they lack any electricity to truly excite viewers. What was memorable in the Bella’s final performance in the first movie is now overdone and blend. Even DSM is too flashy and overwhelming that it does not feel like an a capella performance. With that in mind, Pitch Perfect 2 is comparatively forgettable in its music and plot departments, and it all comes down to the simple fact that people do not want to watch a movie about groups that are already so good.
However, the Bellas do stumble with reclaiming their original sound, and this helps to restore drama and entertainment. Throughout the movie, the Bellas have several onstage and offstage mishaps that, as befitting the comedic nature of the film, are actually more memorable than the Bellas’ grand finale at the World Championships. Pitch Perfect 2‘s greatest strength is that it manages to hold on to what made its predecessor a hit; humour and likeable characters.
This is what ultimately saves Pitch Perfect 2 from being a flop; it is downright hilarious. The characters are so consistently and effortlessly humourous that there is something to laugh about in almost every scene. Rebel Wilson‘s Fat Amy undoubtedly steals the show with her natural (and probably improvised) comments and theatrics. The rest of the amiably diverse Bellas by and large retain the traits that made them all individually and collectively loveable in the first movie. The audience loves Wilson and the cast, and they are what makes Pitch Perfect 2 simply fun to watch.
The film even has several moving moments [SPOILER ALERT], notably when the Bellas prepare for diverging paths after college by performing the Cup Song around a campfire, and when Bellas of past and present (including a no-longer-vomiting Aubrey/Anna Camp and a cameo by ABC personality Robin Roberts) join in the final hoorah. [END OF SPOILER]
Sadly, Pitch Perfect 2 does not match pitch with its successful predecessor, and it lacks any memorability or spark that will have us revisiting it as many times as we did the first movie. Yet, this sequel continues to do what it does best, giving us plenty of jokes and singing and good chemistry between its well-knit cast.
And since we would all love to be friends with the Bellas anyway, a passable two hours with them certainly doesn’t hurt.
Rating: 3.0/5 (TALK-o-meter: “Okay, I guess? Could be better.”)