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Friday, 29 May 2015

Film Review: Pitch Perfect 2

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It’s been three years since Pitch Perfect was released, but now the Bellas are back for another fun-filled pitch-slapping adventure.

The series was heavily influenced by hit US TV show Glee and loosely adapted from Mickey Rapkin’s book of the same name. Both films follow a group of college girls from the fictional Barden University, the Barden Bellas, on their journey to become a capella champions.

Pitch Perfect 2 jumps forward in time, taking place three years after the Bellas won the American a capella crown. Because of this, the group are now all entering their final year of college and facing the end of their time as Barden Bellas. However, according to the opening scene, it doesn’t look like much has changed over the last three years as the girls are still on top of the competition. But during a performance for US president Barack Obama, disaster strikes. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) suffers a wardrobe malfunction that leads to humiliation and disgrace for the whole team, resulting in the Bellas being suspended from future championships. However, obsessive leader Chloe (Brittany Snow) realises that competition rules mean the girls are still eligible to compete in the prestigious quadrennial World Championships. The film follows the Bellas journey to try to win the championships and therefore re-establish their reputation.

Fun and Drama

As the film is set during the Bellas final year there is also a B-plot featuring lead character Becca (Anna Kendrick) as she accepts an internship at a local recording studio. Becca finally gets to see the reality of her dream job, learning some hard truths along the way. This is refreshing because it’s so relatable, covering the topics of dreams, careers, and life after university, which are so often glossed over or idealised by Hollywood.

The biggest issue I have with the film is the characters. Most are fine, but in the transition between the original and the sequel some have become stereotyped cardboard cut-out versions of themselves. For example, Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean) has become little more than the token lesbian character. Others, like Becca’s boyfriend Jesse (Skylar Astin) are grossly misused, having very little screen time. Also, Guatemalan new addition Florencia (Chrissie Fit) seems to be used only to make comical references relating to her ethnicity. Similarly, returning championship commentators John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks) were supposed to provide the comedy but instead somewhat missed the mark with many offensive and misogynistic comments.

A Musical Hit

However, the real highlights of the film are the many musical performances. Barden University’s Bellas and Treblemakers once again show their talent, but this time it’s German rivals Das Sound Machine that really steal the show. The film also manages to incorporate a repeat of the riff-off contest that proved so popular the first time around. Despite essentially halting the plot for the contest’s duration, this sequence works because it’s so musically impressive and just plain fun. The guest appearance of some of American football team the Green Bay Packers’ players also adds to the scene’s humour.

Despite its faults Pitch Perfect 2 is still an enjoyable sequel. The strength and quality of the musical performances alone make this a film worth watching, even if it doesn’t quite meet the standard of the original. But there’s life in the franchise yet, and a Pitch Perfect 3 should prove to be very popular.

Are you a fan of the Pitch Perfect franchise? Let me know in the comments below!

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