Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Hailee Steinfeld with John Michael Higgins, Katey Sagal, Elizabeth Banks
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins
Rating: PG13 (Sexual References)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: http://pitchperfect2-nl.tumblr.com
Opening Day: 14 May 2015
Synopsis: The Barden Bellas are back in Pitch Perfect 2, the follow-up to the original smash hit. The comedy will be helmed by Elizabeth Banks, co-star and producer of Pitch Perfect, and produced by Paul Brooks, Max Handelman and Banks. Writer Kay Cannon returns to the team to pen the next chapter.
Pitch Perfect is back with a bolder sequel! The film features its original cast, some exciting new additions and guest cameos (Hint - some very important people in the White House, and the Dogfather of Rap).The Barden Bellas are at an all-time high, fresh off winning the National A Cappella competition and performing for the President of the United States at the Lincoln Centre. Things go awry during the performance as Fat Amy has a horrific wardrobe malfunction that completely overshadows Janet Jackson's mishap at the 2004 SuperBowl. The Barden Bellas end up back where they started in the first instalment of the series – on the road to redemption. The odds are severely stacked against the Bellas – they are pulled out of their National Victory Tour, told that they are not to recruit any new members, and not to compete in the upcoming national competition. The Bellas decide that the only way to right their wrongs is to go on the world stage and win the International A Capella championship, which no American team has ever managed to accomplish. On the road to the internationals, the girls rediscover friendship, their voice, and goals for the future.
The film’s intent is clear – to promote authenticity and simplicity in an industry that is marred by over-production and spectacle. This is achieved with the introduction of Emily Junk (Hailee Steinfeld), a “Legacy” Bella who is determined to find her own sound through the mentorship of the legendary Bellas. Steinfeld proves she has many tricks up her sleeve. Her filmography is diverse; she’s credited in the 2013 film Ender’s Game and her phenomenal performance in 2010 film True Grit. While her voice is a welcome surprise, Steinfeld doesn’t add much to the already spectacular film and appears negligible amidst other talented cast members. While the movie toned down the “bitch” factor (albeit a good decision by Director Elizabeth Banks), Steinfeld’s character appears aloof and disconnected from the rest of the Bellas, and often puts her needs and ability ahead of the bigger picture. Perhaps Steinfeld was positioned to serve as the beacon of hope and voice of reason for the Bellas who seem to have lost their groove, but it is Anna Camp, who returns as Aubrey Posen, that fulfils this role with poise and geniality.
Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Skylar Austin also reprise their roles in their sequel, but their performance is limited. It may have been the screenwriter or producer’s choice to centre the film around the Bellas in comparison to focusing on Kendrick’s character, Beca. While Kendrick does have a few moments alone on screen, they pale in comparison to the overall entertainment value the film provides. The film could do without her parallel storyline of self-discovery and journey to find her own authentic sound. The fact is that there isn’t any noteworthy character development to expect in Pitch Perfect 2. The film does try to explore each Bella’s individuality and dreams, but the girls are mostly stagnant in the film. But these are issues the audience can ignore when the film on the whole provides great entertainment.
Other cast members have come back more self-assured than in the first instalment with significant help from Banks. Peripheral characters such as Cynthia (Ester Dean), Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and Flo (a new addition to the Bellas, played by Chrissie Fit) stepped up to the plate in the film. They've embraced their characters’ eccentricity and taken a nuanced approach to comedy. Fit and Lee both made the most of their screen time; they were able to tastefully approach racial stereotypes and picked their moments to shine amongst a fully loaded cast. Rebel Wilson returns as “Fat Amy” and she doesn’t hold back. Her comedy is sharp and effective for the most part, with a perfect combination of slapstick and wit. Wilson also nails choreography and her solos –Banks opted to give Wilson more screen time for the sequel, and she makes full use of it. She also has some “disturbingly charming” (for the lack of a better phrase) chemistry with Adam DeVine, who returns as Bumper. Of course, credit also goes to Elizabeth Banks for being able to capitalize on each cast member’s comedic potential. The skinny plot becomes insignificant in the face of entertaining dialogue and comedy.
The film is in absolute harmony (pun intended) in every way. The Bellas come back more energized and colourful. The story flows without a dull moment. Banks, with the help of returning screenwriter Kay Cannon, trims the fat wherever possible and every scene is integral to the story. Cannon and Banks employ an unapologetic brand of humor. As a result, there are some really memorable moments in the film (e.g. Rebel Wilson’s accident that leads to the Bellas being disqualified from their competition is labelled “Muffgate”). Banks’ presence in the film as the returning A Capella commentator is also excellent. She serves as the feminist voice in the film, but she doesn’t take her role too seriously. This is perfection on Banks’ part as she demonstrates the light-touch approach she takes to both comedy and direction. Banks thus emerges real star of the film, which is a great feat she has accomplished in her first rodeo as director.
The film’s take on music and the A Capella phenomenon is also refreshing; there are some unexpected performances by cast members, and some unique song choices in the soundtrack. The introduction of German A Capella group “Das Sound Machine” (led by Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) was also an excellent choice - they often stole the show from the Bellas with their impeccable harmonies and bold song choices (notably Uprising by Muse). Banks’ ability to direct an entertaining sing-off sequence is also unparalleled. All song sequences were entertaining and unforgettable – but one sing-off sequence between the various A Capella groups (Bardon Bellas, Treblemakers, Tone Hangers, Green Bay Packers and Das Sound Machine) was particularly exceptional in its ability to harmonize important pop culture references from the past and present. That sing-off overshadowed the entire production of the grand finale sequence, so look out for it!
It is obvious that the Pitch Perfect franchise rides off the successful “Glee” phenomenon and A Capella centred reality shows, so there’s really nothing novel about this instalment. But there’s something about the awkward charisma, off-tangent humour, and soulful harmonies from each cast member that leave us wanting more “aca-awesome” entertainment. Pitch Perfect 2 manages to charm us once again with the same winning formula, proving that you don’t have to try too hard to be different in order to be entertaining.
(Pitch Perfect 2 shows the potential Mean Girls 2 could have had, but failed to achieve. Major props to the talented cast and crew!)
Review by Aishwarya Kumar