Does pitchin’ good sequel leave room for a third?
Thanks to Universal Pictures Australia we had the chance to see Pitch Perfect 2 before its Australian cinematic release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself.
The gang’s back in the sequel to 2012’s hugely successful, Pitch Perfect, with the new film once more following the exploits of the Barden Bella’s as they continue their meteoric rise in the a capella world.
Having won the Nationals three times in a row since their last outing the group are banned from Nationals after a disastrous performance at the birthday of the President, which includes a cameo from the man himself, Barak Obama and the first lady (demonstrating the reach of the original), involving Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and a hilarious wardrobe malfunction. It’s clear that the Bella’s are a little out of tune with one another.
The ban leaves the ladies with only the world championships to focus on and their one shot at redemption. Along the way they must take on their stiffest competition in the form of German rivals, Das Sound Machine, which are the picture of German performance – kind of like the Audi’s of the a cappella world. But with the attention of the Bella’s star performer, Becca (Anna Kendrick), focussed elsewhere on her internship with a music producer and plans for her after-college life – can the girls overcome all obstacles and bring the noise one last time?
Directed by newcomer, Elizabeth Banks, the level of anticipation for this sequel would have made this a daunting project for even a seasoned veteran. As debut’s go, she has done an admirable job of recreating the magic that made the original such a fan favourite, utilising the chemistry of the cast members and making the most of a good script.
Banks finds additional success in her reprisal of her role as one half of an a cappella commentating duo alongside dim-witted, John Michael Higgins – whose off-the-cuff misogynistic and racist comments may be close to the knuckle, but the fact that they are delivered so expertly and in such idiotic fashion, make them the source of much humour.
With the lead character, Becca, being absent in much of the film it allows others to shine including Australia’s own, Rebel Wilson, who gets significantly more screen time in the sequel. Famed for her scene-stealing one liners, of which there are plenty in this movie, Wilson may seem like a one trick pony but the added screen time allows her to display her range of comedic talents, helping her to develop the Fat Amy character whilst showing she has more than one trick up her sleeve.
But where Banks fails is in the lack of depth she achieves with other members of the group, who seem to have fallen by the wayside and are poorly developed and utilised – with many used for cheap laughs at the expense of being a minority. Even newbie, Hailee Seinfeld, barely gets much attention from the film makers.
This may be due, in part, to the sheer number of cast and performance scenes that allow little time for character development and betrays the inexperience of Banks. In her attempts to include the girls as much as possible, whilst not cutting down on the number of scenes, some are left just fade into the background whilst some of the scenes miss the mark entirely – leaving the audience questioning were they necessary?
What the film does get right is the songs, with everything from House of Pain to Fall Out Boy and Taylor Swift all getting the a cappella treatment. And whilst the one liners may not be conducive to character development, they do appeal to a wide cross-section of audience members, from the young to the old – male to female, and are sure to fill auditoriums across Australia with the hum of laughter.
Whether or not the cast will come together one last time has been left up in the air by the ending with many of the girls graduating from Barden University. Regardless, thanks to the great songs and comedic talent on display, Pitch Perfect 2 was a pitchin’ good time.
Pitch Perfect 2 is now showing in Australian Cinemas