Pitch Perfect 2
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
★★★ / ★★★★
On President Obama’s birthday, the Barden Bellas, three-time a cappella champions, were invited to perform at the Lincoln Center. The performance goes swimmingly—at least initially—until Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is shown suspended on a white sheet à la P!nk at the 2010 Grammys. Wearing no underwear, Fat Amy inadvertently flashes the world and the images spread like wildfire. The Barden Bellas’ once excellent reputation is tarnished and the university’s dean is forced to make a drastic decision.
Directed by Elizabeth Banks, “Pitch Perfect 2” matches the novelty and verve of its predecessor at times, but it does drag in parts. As it should be, the film is at the top of its game when characters are performing mashups of mainstream songs both new and old. However, in order to appeal emotionally to the audience, the script tries to explore friendships and relationships which often come across as tired and forced.
There are a few smart choices here. Beca (Anna Kendrick) is now a senior and she is making preparations when it comes to what she wants to do next after graduation. She hopes to become a record producer and so she divides her time between the a cappella group and interning with a music producer with a sharp tongue (Keegan-Michael Key). The scenes that take place in the conference room and the studio are entertaining and amusing. We believe that Beca is ready to start a new chapter, not simply sitting through a series of scenes where the character realizes eventually that she loves being a Barden Bella more than a chance at a real future. Always be on the lookout for cameos.
Less interesting is the love interest between Fat Amy and Bumper Allen (Adam DeVine), a former Treblemaker who used to work for John Mayer. I missed Bumper Allen’s sassiness; they try to make him a nice guy here which makes him almost boring. Although Wilson and DeVine do try to give it their best shot, especially when it comes to the range of facial expressions they possess, I never felt like there was anything at stake. Even if they do not end up together in the end, it still feels all right. Thus, the couple’s scenes are trivial for the most part, about twenty minutes of padding that fails to push the story forward.
Perhaps the best part of the film is when the Barden Bellas participate in an underground rif-off against other a cappella groups. It is creative, funny, and we get a real sense of the styles, strengths, and weaknesses of each group. This is stronger than the finale—the latter satisfying but not particularly impressive. The last performance relies too much on sentimentality than presentation and talent. The main rival of the Barden Bellas in this film, Das Sound Machine (Flula Borg, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), commands such a presence that cuteness and sweetness simply fail to measure up.
“Pitch Perfect 2” offers a good time and is best seen with a group of people. It might have been better if there had been less talking and more singing, but actors like Kendrick and Wilson possess such an effervescent, effortless charm that they could be selling me something that I don’t need yet I’ll still listen to them speak.