The Pitch Perfect movies are proof positive that despite many people arguments to the contrary, originality isn’t the key to an entertaining film. Indeed, both films are just about as clichéd as it’s possible to get story-wise, following tried and tested formulas for this sort of film. However, despite that – or actually arguably partly because of the oddly comforting nature of that – they are huge amounts of fun.
This time around things have moved on a few years and rather than being a freshman, Beca (Anna Kendrick) is now getting ready to graduate and thinking about the future. Her a cappella group, The Barden Bellas, are now three time national champions, until disaster strikes when ‘Fat’ Amy (Rebel Wilson) suffers a major wardrobe malfunction while performing for the President, which results in the group’s tour being cancelled and threatened with never being able to compete again.
However, nobody can prevent them performing at the World A Cappella Championships, which becomes their only shot at redemption, even though nobody thinks they stand a chance. To succeed they’ll need to find their sound once more and beat the hot favourite, a German group called Das Sound Machine.
In terms of plot, there certainly isn’t a surprise around every corner – indeed, it’s not that different to the plot of the first movie – but the film doesn’t need it as it oozes charm, humour and camaraderie. The last of those is the thing that really helps hold it together, with a group of diverse women who genuinely care about one another, working together to be the best they can be.
The main addition to the cast is Hailee Steinfeld as a new Bella. It becomes clear that’s she’s mainly there to have the franchise handed to her, although after Pitch Perfect 2 became a huge hit, Kendrick and Wilson are returning for Part 3 in 2017, so Steinfeld won’t get to completely take over quite yet.
There are a few things that don’t work, such as a subplot about Beca taking an internship with an asshole music producer. Initially it seems like it’ll be something a bit different and fun, but it doesn’t really go anywhere (at least nowhere that couldn’t have been easily handled without it) and begins to feel as if it’s stalling the rest of the film. Largely though it’s great fun, with Rebel Wilson on fine form as the wonderfully funny and carefree ‘Fat’ Amy, while jokes you might have thought would become stale second time around – such as Hana Mae Lee’s Lilly’s whispered weirdness – are still hilarious.
And of course there’s the music, which is fun and joyous. Admittedly there are a couple of musical numbers where it feels like the script has contorted itself immensely in order to include them, but even so they have great energy and drive. As with the first movie, the ending isn’t at all surprising but still manages to be incredibly uplifting, largely through a great use of music to shift (some would say manipulate) your emotions.
Unfortunately, the DVD doesn’t have a huge amount in the way of special features, although there is a gag reel and a couple of extended musical performances. It’s not too much of a hardship though, because as simple, musical entertainment, the movie is great fun.
Overall Verdict: Pitch Perfect 2 follows the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, offering up a film that is remarkably similar to the first movie. In some circumstances that would be a bad thing, but here the filmmakers ensure all the best bits of Pitch Perfect are intact, resulting in a sweet, funny, life-affirming movie.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac