You know when a celebrity on a chat show decides to start singing on a whim, and they use their finger tips to represent the levels they’re reaching, sitting down, singing their latest single sitting on a couch… It’s horrible, right? That’s because a cappella singing is, by its very nature, a cringeworthy experience, for all involved. However with a playful irreverence, and refreshing subversive attitude, Pitch Perfect went against the grain to make for an immensely entertaining cinematic experience. However in this eagerly anticipated sequel, the line between what can be considered cringe and what is comedy is a rather blurred one, as this delves unwittingly into Glee territory at times – and that’s never a good thing.
With Elizabeth Banks now on directing duty, the film begins with The Bellas performing live for the president during his birthday, only for Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) to have a rather vulgar wardrobe malfunction. Faced with an expulsion, and with a tarnished reputation, The Bellas have been replaced on their victory tour by German supergroup Das Sound Machine. However The Bellas are told that the only way they can avoid an indefinite suspension is to win the forthcoming World Championships, and be reinstated. But Beca (Anna Kendrick) is starting to have her head turned by a job at a record company, allowing the newest band member Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) to take centre stage.
One place you would expect this title to come up trumps is within the music, but even that leaves a lot to be desired, with an all-too contemporary soundtrack, whereas it needs to be more karaoke led, and there’s no surprise that the best scene in the film is the 90s hip-hop sing-off – because it’s a song we know and love. But where Pitch Perfect 2 suffers most predominantly, is by losing that underdog appeal. In the preceding endeavour, Beca came to college as an outsider, joining up with a group of girls that nobody felt had what it takes to win the a cappella competition at the end of the year. But they did win: they triumphed in the face of adversity, and now they’re popular and there’s an expectation on them to succeed – and the film loses so much with it. Another problem with the sequel is losing that character development, as within the first film, every single role had to be introduced and given a significant story – but now we know who they are, and there isn’t a palpable arc or linearity to many of their respective narratives; while key figures from the first film such as Brittany Snow’s Chloe or Skylar Astin’s Jesse have so little to work with this time around.
That wouldn’t be an issue if they were replaced by new, strong characters that bring a lot to proceedings, but sadly that’s not the case either. Instead the lion’s share of comedic material falls into the lap of Fat Amy, and while she completely steals the show (again), it is pretty much the same droll comedic style and wit, and though provoking laughter on occasion, it’s running thin and you’d be hard-pressed to get a third movie out of this franchise with her at the centre; and without her, you’re not left with much.