Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Movies Editor
Competing with summer blockbusters like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tomorrowland would leave any comedy sequel feeling the pressure. Thankfully Pitch Perfect wasn’t any ordinary comedy, and in turn, Pitch Perfect 2 isn’t any ordinary sequel. With producer and actress Elizabeth Banks in the director’s chair for the first time in this foray into the competitive acapella world, there were skeptics to disprove. What Banks ultimately delivers is a film that has its own sense of self while remembering to reference all that audiences loved from its predecessor. However, due to this being a first attempt from a new director, there are moments that don’t completely work or outshine the original. The saving grace for Banks is that those moments are outweighed by her stronger comedic choices and creation of a theme that anyone can get behind.
The Barden Bellas have continued their blaze of glory after winning nationals. Performing for the President of the United States at the Lincoln Center, the Bellas bring their raw talent mixed with polished arranging to bring their name even higher. Unfortunately, a wardrobe malfunction form none other than Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) sends the Bellas into a probation state from adding new members to their team. Chloe (Brittany Snow) tries to rally all of the girls together with the help of new leader Beca (Anna Kendrick), but Beca has a new internship with a leading record label on her mind. A loophole is found thankfully for newcomer and legacy Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) to join the Bellas. The world nationals are approaching and the Bellas turn to every corner of the acapella world to find their original voice. The threat of European champs, Das Sound Machine, taking their world title hangs over the girls as they navigate their own lives and the legacy of the Barden Bellas.
What works best in Pitch Perfect 2 is the comedy. Banks made sure to focus on the humor of each scene rather than finding a way to shoe horn in a song or two to attract those Glee loving crowds. Every scene contained at least one solid joke that was memorable and instantly quotable. Speaking of Glee, Banks crafted a scene that openly mocks the “singing out of nowhere” style perfectly as Fat Amy professes her love for Bumper (Adam DeVine) while dodging cars and rowing a canoe. There are many jokes that could have been considered racially insensitive or downright crude, but they are sprinkled in with backlash commentary to make the deliveries feel fresh and without a bad aftertaste. The addition of the Greenbay Packers cameo was brilliant and became one of the best scenes in the film. Banks is pulling out all of the off the wall and creative humor that can be harnessed without overdoing it.
However, with that said, the music is not as strong in this iteration as it was in the original. Kendrick’s “Cups” song was a worldwide hit that became a hot track apart from the movie, but the sequels attempt at a “Cups” part 2 is shaky. The rest of the song choices for competitions are fun, but there is too much left to the new DSM (Das Sound Machine) group instead of the Bellas. The DSM group is a fun presence, but are featured too many times to leave a great impression in the end. In fact, the second act of the film has too much of a scattered feeling as plot lines diverge from the Bellas and become about each individual girl. The final act of the film shows the Bellas at their strongest, and Banks as well. When the girls are all forced to interact with one another the film has life. A stronger focus on keeping the story revolved around their group and interpersonal interactions would have made this one of the best comedy sequels of all time. Overall, Pitch Perfect 2 is still a strong, hilarious good time that any fan of the original will be thankful is here.
Overall Grade: A-