“Pitch Perfect 2” Review

I’m proud to say that I’ve been with the Bellas since the beginning. I remember going to see Pitch Perfect way back in 2012 on opening weekend and being pleasantly surprised. At first, the film didn’t perform too well at the box office, until word-of-mouth kicked in and Pitch Perfect became a huge sleeper hit. Elizabeth Banks, who produced and had a supporting role in the first film, directs this sequel in which the Bellas compete at the A Capella world championship in attempt to bounce back from a disastrous performance for the President.

Pitch Perfect 2 succeeds because it carries the same spirit of the original, without seeming to copy it. The big thing is that the film takes the world of A Capella super seriously. A lot of the humor is derived from being part of this bubble where A Capella is the most serious thing ever, and if there’s too much winking within the bubble, the whole thing falls through. Thankfully, the film takes A Capella just as seriously as it did in the original. Another part of the magic comes from the hysterical improv on set, coming mostly from Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine. The final aspect of the winning combination is the great singing.

Pitch Perfect 2 does what is expected of it for a franchise sequel. The stakes are higher and the situations are more extreme. There’s a larger budget and even some more celebrity cameos. However, this film strays from the norm in that Pitch Perfect 2 is much more of a feminist movie than the original. It’s not preachy, but it’s definitely a ‘girl power’ movie. Personally, I think that’s cool. Hollywood is super sexist both in front of and behind the camera, and it’s not often where you have a large ensemble filled with women and a female director.

Of course, students can’t be students forever, and with this installment of the franchise, all of the characters from the original are graduating. If there’s going to be a Pitch Perfect 3 though, new characters need to be introduced. That’s why this film spends a significant portion of the film developing Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) as a character. Steinfeld blew onto the scene after scoring an Oscar nod for 2010’s True Grit, but after seeing her in a few more movies, it becomes apparent that her performance is somewhat dependent on the quality of her co-stars. I think that she’s a great actress, but I’m not quite sure she’d be able to carry the film in the next installment. Who knows though. The Pitch Perfect franchise has had plenty of surprises.

While Pitch Perfect 2 keeps a lot of the qualities that made the original good, it also retains a lot of the faults. Jokes don’t always land where they need to, and there’s some sense that a lot of scenes were left on the cutting room floor for the sake of pacing. However, I would argue that this film is at the same quality of the original, it’s just less of a shock. Your opinion of the first movie will be your opinion of this one. 7/10.

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