EXPECTATIONS: A sequel that’s out of sync compared to the original. Hailee Steinfeld is my bias though. She ought to be a plus.
REVIEW: Another year, another hundred sequels. And in this hundred is Pitch Perfect 2, a sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit that came out at the time the hit TV show Glee was still relevant. Comparisons and predictability aside, Pitch Perfect was a great musical comedy that had incredibly likable characters, catchy music and a great sense of fun that didn’t feel forced or cringing that would make your eyes bleed. Ahem, **Sister Act 2**, ahem. But can the sequel recapture the magic of the original and sing it to the world? Um, Aca-not really?
Set three years after the original, The Bellas are singing at a Presidential Gala for Barack Obama and under stressful circumstances, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) has a wardrobe malfunction that destroys the act and almost destroys their reputation (Muffgate was amusing to read). After the embarrassing display, the Bellas are banned from from showcasing their a capella talents. But Beca (Anna Kendrick) proposes a deal that if they compete in the Worlds and win the competition, they can be reinstated. And inter-sped through the main story are subplots like a new Bella recruit Emily Junk (awkwardly AND amusingly played by Hailee Steinfeld), Beca working in an internship to become a music producer and Fat Amy’s romance with Bumper (played by Jack Black-wannabe, Adam LeVine).
No one watches a movie like this for the story and the story (like the first film) is as predictable as it gets. But what is the rock for these films are the characters, and they are still as lovable as ever, with a few debits. Anna Kendrick, as Beca, seemed to be a bit tired in the role. The chemistry is still there between her and the others, but something about her performance seemed a bit off. Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy clearly makes the most of her increased screen-time and amuses as always, but what irked me about her was the fact that she bullies Emily for no particular reason. Is there something I missed? Hailee Steinfeld is new in comedy and it shows, but fortunately, director/star Elizabeth Banks uses that to the film’s advantage and it pays off, making Steinfeld likable and even easy to relate to. Another newcomer in the Bellas is Chrissie Fit as Flo and she was funny at first, but her jokes about her race just got old over time. The rest of the stars are thankfully the same, with Rinko Kikuchi-lookalike Hana Mae Lee still stealing scenes with no effort whatsoever and Anna Camp thankfully returns to suck souls and replenish them once again.
As for the new characters in the supporting cast, Katey Segal (from “Married with Children”…damn I’m old) is underused as Emily’s mum, but Keegan-Michael Key (of Key and Peele) steals all the scenes he’s in as Beca’s boss and the supposed villains played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (from Borgen, a great show) and Flula Borg (a YouTube star) are great, particularly when Anna Kendrick confronts the two and loses herself. Even a cameo from Snoop Dogg was hilarious to witness, particularly on what he’s actually singing and how enthusiastically he sings it. Elizabeth Banks’ direction isn’t as smooth as Jason Moore’s in the first film as her directions towards actors are inconsistent (Anna Camp’s performance, while amusing, is more over-the-top than usual), but some scenes are really funny, like a scene where all the Bellas are in a tent.
A pretty short review today, Pitch Perfect 2 is what most sequels are. It’s not as good as the original, but thankfully, the characters are still great to revisit but I do hope that they don’t stretch themselves thin and end on a sour note (pun totally intended).
Performances from main cast and newcomers are overall great
Many highlights (the tent scene)
Jokes are stretched a little bit too thin
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Katey Sagal, Anna Camp, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Flula Borg, Kelley Jakle, Shelley Regner, John Hodgman, Jason Jones, Joe Lo Truglio, Reggie Watts, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, Keegan-Michael Key, Shawn Carter Peterson, David Cross
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Screenwriter: Kay Cannon