Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Review

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Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Anna Kendrick; Rebel Wilson; Hailee Steinfeld; Brittany Snow; Skylar Astin; Adam DeVine.
Plot: After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

Pitch Perfect 1 was one of the five movies I selected as being surprisingly excellent in the list I posted last week, so when the opportunity to sit down and watch Pitch Perfect 2 was thrown my way, I grabbed it with both hands and awaited yet more comedy gold from the world’s favourite A cappella group.

Almost instantly my expectations were lowered by the vast amount of children that had taken their seats in the cinema to reveal to me that Pitch Perfect 2 was a 12A (PG13) – I really should’ve caught this in my research, admittedly. Why the decision was made to give the sequel a lower age rating is simple… money. However, it seemingly makes very little sense otherwise. After all, the vast amounts of kids I shared my screening with surely didn’t see the first one in cinemas given its 15 rating, and if the law is anything to go by they shouldn’t have seen the first one at all, right? Furthermore, Pitch Perfect is a college comedy, something completely out of the realm of understanding to anyone under an appropriate age. I don’t wish to preach to you about age ratings as I’m a fairly liberal person and believe that it’s each to their own in this regard, but my expectations of the level of humour was significantly lowered given the knowledge that this movie was now also available to children. In many ways I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this was, mostly, not the case at all – whether the parents in attendance would have thought the same thing is another question entirely.

Pitch Perfect 2’s entire premise centers around the disgrace placed on the Barden Bellas by A capella enthusiasts when Fat Amy accidentally reveals her nether regions to the watching public at the national college finals, and journeys with them on their road back to the top of the A cappella game, all in the same classically tongue in cheek way that we’d become accustomed to in the first movie. One large part of the success of this portrayal is due to the sarcastic commentary team who break up scenes in much the same way that Statler and Waldorf do in The Muppets, and both Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are once again on form with their excellent delivery of some truly laugh-out-loud one liners. However, much unlike the original, the idea of an A cappella group competing nationally/internationally being a ridiculous concept (in many ways) is absent and Anna Kendrick’s character Beca feeds into that now that she’s embraced the process after her experiences in the first movie. It’s a huge miss to the comedy of Elizabeth Banks’s film but one that Rebel Wilson does her upmost to make up for.

Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy is without a doubt the standout of Pitch Perfect 2. In many respects it is her journey that this film follows the most, with Beca’s presence in the movie lessening in this picture, and this is a huge positive with regard to the quality of the movie because Wilson’s contributions are simply hilarious and often typically sexual despite the lowered age rating. Hailee Steinfeld’s introduction as Emily was welcomed as a new dynamic because of her younger and fan-girl-representing role too, but it’d be hard to argue against the fact that she is used as little more than a plot device to help complete Beca’s story and set up an inevitable third movie. The best addition to the Pitch Perfect universe this time out was almost undoubtedly Keegan-Michael Key as Beca’s new boss. Key was seemingly effortless in his comedic delivery and was written in such a way that the actor’s personality was able to shine beyond his somewhat small role. His character’s introduction, as well as the introduction of various comedians, musicians and even sports stars in the smaller roles, added that “oh, it’s that person” intrigue which is normally somewhat inexcusable but was entirely suitable for the tongue-in-cheek and almost parody-like tone of the movie which, as I mentioned before, was somewhat lacking in other areas.

Generally speaking, Pitch Perfect 2’s visual style is almost indistinguishable from the original despite the change in directors, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the work in this regard simply needs to be efficient and appropriately edited to maintain comedic value and the general structure of other films in the genre. As is typical of a sequel however, there has been a notable increase in the scale of the production which has grown considerably since the original, the credit of the organisation of which must go to the first-time feature director Elizabeth Banks.

Conclusively, Pitch Perfect 2 is by no means a poor sequel despite the age rating, and should certainly be considered as a worthy follow up to one of the best comedies of the decade (at least in my opinion). Though it misses Beca’s commentary on the outrageous nature a movie about A cappella, something that can’t be covered by the intriguing casting additions and cameos, it still hits a number of key notes and is a generally funny and interesting movie that is a must-watch for any Pitch Perfect fan and worth an intriguing glimpse for those who are not.

Not as good as it gets, but still a good addition to the genre…

15/24