Pitch Perfect 2 review: Nothing new happens in this absolutely unnecessary sequel
How we wish Pitch Perfect 2 was a better cover of Pitch Perfect.
At one point in the unnecessary sequel that is Pitch Perfect 2, a character breaks into a self-composed song in the middle of an intense ‘riff off’. Gasps and murmurs fly around as she misses a beat and looks around. “We spit on originals!” says the sneering competition judge before dismissing the team. Could it be just coincidence that this line also seems to be the motto of the film itself? I don’t think so.
In case you haven’t seen the first film in this soon-to-be trilogy, (yes, Pitch Perfect 3 releases in 2017 so brace yourself) let me bring you up to speed.
The Pitch Perfect series is set in the surprisingly high octane world of competitive a capella bands, mostly from the fictional Barden University. A capella, as you probably know, is a type of singing that relies purely on vocals even for beats and instrumental sounds. It’s hugely enjoyable if done right, as the first film proved.
Pitch Perfect released in 2012 and was an unexpected hit. It featured stellar covers of hits like "Right Round" and "Don’t Stop The Music" and was a breakout movie for Rebel Wilson who pulled a Melissa McCarthy and did some plus sized scene stealing as ‘Fat Amy’. The only problem was that it raked in about $115 million dollars worldwide, and so as specified by the laws of diminishing creative utility, a sequel was but inevitable.
So here we are, whipping a one trick pony into a second race. The Bardon Bellas, the all female group that triumphed in Pitch Perfect have now been around that block a few times. Led by Becca (Anna Kendrick), they are now three-time reigning champions.
During a performance in front of the Obamas, one of their members faces a wardrobe malfunction while doing a cover of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. They get suspended and can only be reinstated if they win the global a capella championships to be held in Copenhagen.
To do so they have to go up against the formidably perfect German team ‘Das Sound Machine’. This sets the stage for a truly seamless product placement for Volkswagen. Really. I recommend that all brand managers study it for reference, even if they do risk extreme boredom as a result.
It is a very likely result. Remember the TV show Glee? It was a perfect example of why cover songs are such fun and how familiar songs that we have all listened to a hundred times could be rendered fresh by new voices. How I wish Pitch Perfect 2 was a better cover of Pitch Perfect.
I’d love to tell you that something unexpected happens as the Barden Bellas prepare to win the global title. That they lose the championships. Or that Becca’s dream of becoming a music producer remains just that and she becomes a Don Draper style alcoholic who starts on a journey of self-discovery after a two week bender.
Or that like Zayn Malik and One Direction, the group faces an ugly breakup. But this is not the case. I would have forgiven the clichéd plot if the songs and the choreography were noteworthy. But you could pick an episode of The Voice at random and hear better covers.
I counted only three saving graces. One is the passive aggressive banter between the commentators of the championships- John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks, who also directed the film). Second is Keegan-Michale Key of Key & Peele fame as Becca’s temperamental boss at the trendy record label she’s interning at.
And lastly, the glorious Rebel Wilson whose comic timing is the source of most of the laughs in this film. Why couldn’t she be the lead? Why is Anna Kendrick a lead actor? Why am I immune to her sullen charms and talent? How could the talented Elizabeth Banks direct this insipid film? How has this film dislodged School of Rock as the highest grossing musical comedy of all time?
These are some questions I am still seeking the answers to. Maybe you can enlighten me?
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