Pitch Perfect 2: An off-key track

A still from Pitch Perfect 2  

A sequel to a good film is always a tough act. Pitch Perfect 2 shows us this; it banks on a good melody, and yet, hits all the wrong notes. The first film, Pitch Perfect, was one of 2012’s surprise smash hits. Directed by Jason Moore, it was a feel-good, funny story about the Barden Bellas, an all-woman a cappella collegiate group who gain in popularity.

Pitch Perfect 2, which marks Elizabeth Banks’ directorial debut, opens with a wardrobe malfunction at the a cappella group’s performance that is watched by the Obamas no less. Barden Bella singer Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) costume rips, and in the aftermath, the media, for its part, lets rip. Journalist reactions, headlined by the squabbling radio presenters John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks), are wildly out of proportion with the actual incident. One earnest news anchor even says, “The FBI has ruled out terrorism.”

As a result, America’s champion group gets banned from domestic competitions. But all is not lost, obviously. There’s a world title competition being held in Copenhagen, and winning it would restore the group’s reputation. Standing in their way is Das Sound Machine, a neo-Nazi-styled German a capella group headed by the Teutonic Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) and Pieter (Flula Borg).

Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast:Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Keegan-Michael Key, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen
Genre:Musical comedy
Bottomline:Collegiate a capella group Barden Bellas need to win the international championship to restore its credibility

The returning Bellas in this film include the very talented Beca (Anna Kendrick), who gets an internship at a recording studio that she keeps secret. The new Bella is freshman Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) who can also write songs.

In an effort to up their game, the Barden Bellas initially mistake extravagant stage antics for good performances — and wind up with a routine that’s gimmicky and forced. It lacks what made their performances enjoyable in the first place — high quality singing and an original, wacky stage presence.

Unintentionally, Pitch Perfect 2 too suffers from the same problem. In order to push the story further, the script by Kay Cannon (based on characters by Mickey Rapkin) resorts to heavy-handed jokes, over-the-top stereotypes, stilted dialogue and a mishmash of set pieces.

On the positive side, the movie does nail the odd bit of humour noir, like a radio presenter announcing the a capella group with the line, “Let's hear it for the girls too ugly to be cheerleaders.” A few performances stand out — especially Keegan-Michael Key’s as Beca’s eccentric boss. And then there’s the singing that is still reasonably fun in this otherwise off-key film.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 4:31:43 AM |

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