Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Dir. Elizabeth Banks
Sequels are rarely as good as the first film and sadly this is no aca-ception!
When an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction brings shame on the Barden Bellas and the world of A cappella, the girls only way to redeem themselves is to win the world championships with the help of old friends and a new recruit.
Sadly this falls short of the brilliance of the original but that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to love here, it’s just nowhere as near as inventive. I really loved the first film, it completely surprised me and won me over. While I still enjoyed this follow-up, it’s not quite as surprising and rarely as brilliant. With Elizabeth Banks taking over at the helm and returning as a producer she demonstrates a good handle on some of the characters, but a lack of original story (a definite strength of the first) is the main weakness here.
Most prominently the record executive parts of the storyline just felt like things I’ve seen too many times, if the exec was more ‘out there’ or odd it might have worked but there was nothing new or interesting about that character at all. We have seen this type of character dozens of times before in films and incorporating a big cameo from Snoop Dogg didn’t help much, he was all but wasted (no pun intended).
Musically the film is still strong, especially when bringing back the battle elements that were both exciting and musically inventive in the first film and are once again, with a slight change to make sure it doesn’t feel exactly the same. Sadly I felt the foreshadowing of use of one song was so persistent and obvious that it slightly diminished the otherwise excellent final championship performance, which while still enjoyable and a highlight of the film could’ve been more surprising, though I must admit it still worked for me.
What also still worked for me was the eclectic casting, almost without exception the characters are brilliantly cast with both returning and new characters working very well. Seeing Adam DeVine (‘Modern Family‘) return as Bumper was always going to be enjoyable, and when it comes to new characters I am really loving Hailee Steinfeld (‘Begin Again‘) in her role, she’s so brilliant as a new Bella and looks of age, I felt she fit into the established group with ease while also holding her own as an individual. Yet there are still small bits that don’t work with her and almost spoil an otherwise perfect new character.
I think there was enough there to make a great film but it’s got a lot that needed a rewrite or just cutting away to make it a really worthy successor to the brilliant original. A possible reason for this is the director being too invested in what was originally written and shot, though that’s a skill that can be developed with time and experience or by collaborating with editors and producers who can add another more discerning perspective on the final cut.
A third movie has been announced, the box office returns made it a certainty though I fear there will be less of a clamour for it right now. I don’t know exactly what the third film will have in store, the Bellas have already gone global, so without taking things into the realms of sci-fi and going interplanetary I’m not sure if that particular aspect can be scaled up. Hopefully the future film will focus on the friendships as the characters face departing to go their separate ways. If done right it could redeem the trilogy and return it to former brilliance because it’s the memorable and lovable characters that made Pitch Perfect such a hit in the first place.