When “Pitch Perfect” was released in 2012, nearly no one noticed. It was a small film with a relatively-unknown cast (mainstream-wise). It also surpassed all expectations, mostly because no one had any.
Fast forward nearly three years later, and the film has grown into a pop culture phenomenon. Plus, that “relatively-unknown” cast is very well known. If you don’t know who Anna Kendrick (Becca) and Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy) are, well then you’ve been making a conscious effort (and are really missing out). Even the film’s director and lovable aca-commentator, Elizabeth Banks, is now a household name. Needless to say, when it was announced that “Pitch Perfect 2” was happening, expectations were set astronomically high.
The problem with those kinds of expectations is that they inevitably set the film up for failure. The facts are, “Pitch Perfect 2” was never going to be the same as its predecessor. It’s just not possible to recreate the magic of the first film.
In spite of the fact that the odds were stacked against it, “Pitch Perfect 2,” is a surprisingly solid sequel, for the most part.
I’ll get back to that catch, but for now I’m going to focus on what the film got right, which I can sum up in just a few words — the Barden Bellas.
It was a good call to keep the original group intact, and relatively unchanged (with the acceptable addition of Hailee Steinfeld). The movie takes place in the Bellas senior year, so the impending life-altering change is enough to deal with, without having to stomach a completely altered group dynamic.
The group’s victory tour and senior year are all but ruined when a wardrobe malfunction at a performance for the President’s birthday disqualifies the Bellas from competing. If that premise sounds ridiculous to you, congratulations! You’re ahead of the curve! I and all of womankind couldn’t agree more.
Getting back on track (and off my soapbox), the Bellas manage to strike a compromise with the a capella powers that be. As three-time national champions of collegiate a capella, they’re the U.S. representatives for the world a capella championships. If they’re able to win, they’ll be reinstated, and able to compete next year.
It’s a bittersweet compromise since nearly the entire team is in their senior year. It’s also, as compelling storytelling fate would have it, highly improbable since no U.S. team has ever won.
I won’t spoil anything, but in the end, there are tears, and the Bellas learn a lesson that we knew all along — this is one fantastic group of young women.
The original film’s stars are what make this movie work, but they also get some help from some new additions. In their quest for world domination, the Bellas are pitted against the reigning champs, the German a capella group, Das Sound Machine. Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Flula Borg as the group’s leaders are welcome additions to the quirky cast.
Okay, I promised I would address that “for the most part” catch, so here it is. With any great success, you’re going to have bandwagon followers, people and companies who want to ride the coattails. While many of the famous individuals who appear in “Pitch Perfect 2,” I’m sure had the best of intentions, the stream of cameos starts to come across as a bit gimmicky. It also doesn’t help that they’re joined by a barage of ads for razors, cars, shampoo, and makeup. We all know that money and the sponsors that provide it are an unavoidable evil in the world of moviemaking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
That being said, it doesn’t completely ruin the movie. Which, I suppose, counts for something.
It may not be perfect, but it’s about as close as we could have hoped. When it matters, it hits all the right notes.
…just for fun: