Aca-welcome to my aca-review of the aca-sequel, Pitch Perfect 2. To celebrate this movie, I will be using aca’s throughout this whole review… aca-kidding. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’m ready to do this for real.
I saw the first Pitch Perfect for the first time only a few months ago. I had no interest in a movie that I could not relate to at all. My demographic does not match the audience’s, so why would I watch it? I was eventually coerced into watching it, and ended up enjoying a lot more than I ever expected. It was funny, creative, and had an edge to it. And I did relate to Anna Kendrick’s love interest who has great film taste and his Star Wars obsessed roomate. Naturally, my anticipation for Pitch Perfect 2 spiked and here we are.
In some capacity, all of the original cast returns to the world of aca-obsessed (sorry) colleges and the vibrant characters that fill it. At least this movie, unlike the first one, recognizes and says that no one in the real world actually cares about acapella. But a movie that does make me care about this story and the people in it is doing something right.
It is because I care about the story that I was let down by the second Pitch Perfect. In many ways, it felt like the sequel I wanted to see, and I wholeheartedly enjoyed these parts. However, other parts were completely unnecessary, excruciatingly long, and thrown in for reasons unbeknown to me. The story begins in a similar fashion to the first, with an embarrassing aca-performance (sorry again) that the team must come back from. Becca (Kendrick) also has a few things she has to deal with herself. If the script had focused on these stories, the movie could have been really good.
Instead, it flies off the rail in a million directions, copying many of the same beats as its predecessor. If you remember the sing-off in the pool from the first film, there is a similar competition that came out of nowhere and distracted from the plot. I assume it was just put in there to show some random, albeit entertaining, cameos. The group also goes on a “getaway trip” to try and fix the same problems they had from the first film. Once again, this was probably only used to bring back a certain character.
I really enjoyed Becca in the first Pitch Perfect. She was outside of social norms, hardened, sarcastic, and hipster like, but she was just doing her own thing. In the second installment she had none of these characteristics, like getting a boyfriend completely changed who she was. She became less interesting and more ordinary, to me anyway. There were glimpses of her former self, but for the most part she became far less developed.
While I thought Becca became less interesting, characters like Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy and the rest of the aca-group (I really have a problem) were just as good, if not better. I feared Wilson would just spoof herself the whole time with recycled jokes, but she was toned down and had some great lines. Despite a love story between her and another character that was awkwardly forced down my throat, I really enjoyed her performance. Hailee Steinfeld plays Emily, the newest addition to The Bellas. I thought she did a pretty good job overall. I wasn’t sure of her at first, but her dynamic within the group grew on me.
With an almost 2 hour run time, it is a little long. If they had shortened some of those scenes I talked about down, it would have worked a lot better. That being said, when the final performance arrived, I moaned to myself because I was worried about how much was left. But it was really terrific, making me want to raise my fist above my head like Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. I won’t spoil the decision that was made for the last song, I’ll just say that the payoff was well worth it.
Elizabeth Banks directed this film, also starring as a recurring live commentator like she did in the first alongside John Michael Higgins. As her debut I think she did a satisfactory job. If there is a third film, which I’m sure there will be because of its financial success, I don’t think she needs to return to direct. I do, however, want to see her in it again because of her great comic relief and hilarious chemistry with Higgins.
If you’re part of the cult following for the first Pitch Perfect, I assume you’ve already seen this one. I predict that you liked it a lot too. I even did for a good portion of it. Unfortunately, it takes too much from the first and fails to find a consistent tone. A shorter and more concise revision of the script would have benefited it immensely. Luckily, it is saved from horribleness by a great cast with chemistry that will keep you entertained. Aca-thanks (last one, I promise) for reading!