Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

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After a scandal knocks gets the Barden Bellas suspended, the a cappella singing group focuses their attentions on winning the world championships before most of their members graduate.

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Elizabeth Banks, 2015

It’s been three years since the events of the first film, and the Barden Bellas are touring the country with their music. Most of the original team are set to graduate, including the highly strung Chloe (Brittany Snow), who has stayed in college for years to remain a member of the Bellas. When a wardrobe malfunction involving Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) gets the Bellas suspended, Chloe becomes obsessed with winning the World Championships and keeping the dream alive. New member Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is thrown by this obsession – her mother told her that being a Bella would be the best time of her life, but the focus on winning drains the fun out of being part of the team. Meanwhile, Beca (Anna Kendrick) wins a prestigious internship, causing her attention to be split between the Bellas and working towards a future in producing her own music. Thus splintered, the group must find a way to capture their old spark if they want to win the Worlds.

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I love me some singing in movies. I also have a particular fondness for a cappella singing. When you get a bunch of funny girls singing a cappella in a light-hearted, enjoyable movie like this one, it’s almost impossible for me not to enjoy it. The film’s main draw is its relateability, with strong female friendships. One of the film’s high points features the Bellas going on a camping trip to bond, and it’s filled with moments that anyone who has gone on a similar trip can relate to in bucketloads. The relationships between the girls are unique and fun, too. Beca continues to be one of Anna Kendrick’s best roles, a sharp-tongued, cynical, highly capable performer who is able to be acerbic but likeable. Rebel Wilson continues her takeover of Hollywood, providing the biggest belly-laughs of the film. The addition of Hailee Steinfeld injects the film with bubbly, adorkable energy, and she lights up her every scene (though I could have done without the awkward romance angle). Minor roles from Elizabeth Banks (who becomes increasingly irritated at her co-host’s sexism and racism), Hana Mae Lee (whose soft-spoken and psychotic Lilly was a highlight of the first film as well), and the always hilarious Keegan-Michael Key ably support the core cast.

There are, unfortunately, a few outright offensive jokes. It continues to be a queerbaiting series, making jokes about lesbians and having the girls flirt with each other non-stop without actually portraying any lesbian relationships. Its relationship with race and stereotypes is also highly iffy. Elizabeth Banks’ directing is serviceable, bringing out great performances from her actors. We get to see a decent number of the songs in full, which is always good from my point of view. The musical numbers are a whole lot of fun, and a number of professional a cappella groups and performers have been brought in to uplift the film (including the top-selling Pentatonix, a five-member group who have produced some mind-boggling a cappella). There are a lot of hardcore fans of this franchise, which surprised me; I knew it was popular, but I had no idea of the level of fandom that Pitch Perfect had inspired. This is an uplifting cinema experience with plenty of laughs along the way.

Pitch Perfect 2 on IMDb

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