Pitch Perfect 2 May 16, 2015
Before I pull out a cup, set in on the ground, pound out a rat-a-tat-tat-tat rhythm and sing the words of my positive review, consider that the first Pitch Perfect should not have been the big hit that it was. A comedy set to the beat of the severely uncool college a cappella crowd, it should have flopped, becoming a cult classic made to lay waste upon IFC.
Strange how fan favorites are born. All detractors aside, 2012’s Pitch Perfect is a comedic gem. I’m not so sure how much of an asset the music is (although I’m positive my high school’s theater geeks would harshly disagree with me), but the dialogue, coated with undeniable human comedy and self-deprecation, is frequently hilarious and immensely quotable.
Watching Pitch Perfect 2 in the theater last night, I was amazed at how excited the audience was to be there. I came late and the showing I was planning on going to was completely sold out (something I was certainly not expecting for a movie so demographically inhibited), so I had to go an hour later — I’m sure that that showing was eventually warranted as being sold out too. People love the world of Pitch Perfect; I happen to like it too.
The film begins in scandal. At a performance for the president, the Barden Bellas shock the world by way of a graphic wardrobe malfunction — Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), attempting to perform a high wire stunt, accidentally splits her costume and flashes the world. Muffgate, the media calls it. Their solid reputation plummets with the came-and-went flash of Paris Hilton’s stardom: the university revokes their auditioning and performing privileges, the other a cappella groups can hardly help but point and laugh, and several of the senior members, particularly the heroine of the first film, Beca (Anna Kendrick), are planning for the future instead of giving their 100 percent.
Without the ability to continue their victory tour, the Bellas set their sights on a new goal: entering, and hopefully defeating, the international a cappella competition. With a new member (Hailee Steinfeld) and a new outlook, they may be able to defeat their worldly competition.
Pitch Perfect 2 is also the directorial debut for underrated comedic actress Elizabeth Banks, who plays one of the two sexist a cappella judges that provide much of the movie’s laughs. Material like this has the potential meander under the weight of an amateur, but Banks keeps things remarkably assured. She has a great eye for comedy.
Still a weakness, though, is the music. While some of the musically based sequences are impressive, sometimes lovable (one can hardly deny the sing-off at a cameoing David Cross’s house, which also features the Green Bay Packers as a group), they are not always as welcome as the comedy. The main side plot, Beca’s internship at a recording studio, crackles with energetic humor, mostly from a game Keegan-Michael Key, who plays the head producer. But forced are the moments in which Beca has to prove what a great producer she is, one time singing along and tweaking what the studio deems a hopeless track, the other time integrating her chops with an original song sung by one of the Bellas.
But these minor flaws hardly affect the offbeat entertainment of Pitch Perfect 2. The dialogue is phenomenally funny, the performances even better. It doesn’t disappoint; it’s a continuation of the delicacies of the first. Is there improvement to be found? Not really. But you’ll find exactly what you were looking for. B