The highly-anticipated sequel to the 2012 hit movie about collegiate a cappella singing groups hit theatres May 15. The Barden Bellas have a disastrous performance at Lincoln Centre that leaves their future as Barden University’s star singing group in question. Determined to redeem themselves and to fight for their right to continue singing, they enroll in an international a cappella competition where no American group has ever won before. Faced with some tough competition, the Bellas need to regain their confidence if they have any chance of winning.
[Slight spoiler warning. I don’t reveal key plot points, but I do talk about some specific details from the movie]
While I, surprisingly, was late in the game to watch the first movie I absolutely loved it and was anxiously waiting for this sequel to be released. Perhaps I was hoping for Pitch Perfect 2 to be equally aca-awesome as the original but, for me, it wasn’t. Which is why I struggle with what I actually thought about it. I love the premise of both movies so much but some of the writing and choices made in this one are questionable to me.
- What happened to the Treblemakers? The first movie, the Treblemakers were SO cool. Cool arrangements, cool performances. While I do love Mika, I found their performance of Lollipop – while obviously supposed to be cheeky – a bit dorky. Even their outfits with the maroon sweater vests and purple velour blazers? What happened??
- Where’s the swoon-worthy Jesse/Beca chemistry? My “theory” (and I use that term very loosely) is that during the filming of the first one, the actor who portrays Jesse (Skylar Astin) hadn’t been dating Anna Camp (Aubrey) yet. However, they’ve been dating for a while now for Pitch Perfect 2 and perhaps it’s subconsciously reflected in his acting with Anna Kendrick (Beca). That being said, it could just be that their relationship at this point in the movie is several years in so they’re much more comfortable with each other and not as heart-stopping swooning. Whatever it is, something felt missing between them to me – not to mention even Jesse’s minimal onscreen time!
- What’s with all the jokes about race? This made me increasingly uncomfortable throughout the movie. While Entertainment Weekly does mention that nobody is spared, it didn’t necessarily make it okay. Or funny. Chrissie Fit, who plays Flo, seemingly is okay with all the jokes from that EW article but the fact that almost all her lines in the movie was playing on Flo’s “Mexican”/Guatemalan lifestyle got old. Cut to the Worlds Championship where many different countries were represented in a montage, playing up on their heritage with their outfits and some questionably offensive commentary from John (John Michael Higgins) & Gail (Elizabeth Banks). It’s one thing when John makes misogynistic remarks and Gail’s reactions cancel it out, but it feels different when they’re both making racial remarks about the others. There were definitely some audible gasps and groans from the audience at this point. A friend commented that the 2012 movie, the jokes about Lilly were around the fact that she’s quiet and strange, nothing about her being Asian. However, this movie, so many jokes were surrounding the race of its characters. I liken these in Pitch Perfect 2 to Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, where the first movie’s were more like Tina & Amy.
All that being said, I did enjoy the movie for the most part. It was entertaining and had some great laugh-out-loud moments. I found the awkwardness of both Benji & Emily (aka “Legacy”) adorable. While Bumper & Fat Amy may have been the obvious comedic duo, I felt Benji had some of the most hilarious moments. Many familiar faces also make appearances throughout the film, from comedians to contestants that had appeared on The Sing-Off, a real TV a cappella singing competition show hosted by Nick Lachey.
As for the soundtrack, like the movie, I prefer the first one. This sequel’s playlist has some fantastic arrangements on it and there are a few songs that I’d put on repeat but not a lot of them I’d enjoy outside of the context of the movie. I’m not sure how I feel about Das Sound Machine’s songs. I’m no expert but I was confused as to how heavy their accents were when singing English songs. I thought music was more a tonal thing, which is why there are many people who do have accents normally when speaking, it isn’t heard when they sing. I also can’t tell if the original song “Flashlight” is meant to be a sincere song, or it’s tongue-in-cheek with the cheesy factor.
I know given this review that it sounds like I didn’t like the movie, but I did. I rarely get around to going to the movies and I’ve already seen this twice in the two weeks it’s been out. It’s fun, it’s entertaining and it’s got some good tunes. Be forewarned that it is a bit edgier than the first one. I saw parents bring a few fairly young kids to one of the showings and kept thinking that they’ve probably learned some new words and terms in these two hours. Pitch Perfect was definitely more “kid-friendly” than its sequel.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)