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article image‘Pitch Perfect 2’ is a little off-key

By Sarah Gopaul     May 16, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Pitch Perfect 2’ is perfectly enjoyable in spite of boasting an inferior soundtrack and being somewhat less fun than the original.
Although female-driven comedies are becoming less of a rarity, their quality still varies considerably. This is not a reflection of the talent available, but rather the material being produced. It’s been shown these movies, when made well, can turn a significant profit at the box office. Capitalizing on the popularity of the TV show Glee, producers greenlit the first Pitch Perfect, which had a bit of a Mean Girls tone with an awesome soundtrack. It was a huge hit and developed a loyal fan following, making the arrival of Pitch Perfect 2 a done deal. But the question at the back of everyone’s mind is, “Can it live up to the first movie.”
The “pitches” are back. The three-time national champions confirm girls really do rule the world — at least the a cappella one. However a wardrobe malfunction at a performance for U.S. President Barack Obama (yes, he and the First Lady are really in the movie) strips the Bellas of their prestigious station. To regain their status, they must beat the reigning German team, Das Sound Machine, and win the world title; an honour no U.S. team has ever achieved. To make matters more difficult, Beca (Anna Kendrick) is trying to juggle Bella responsibilities with a new internship, they need to train a new legacy member (Hailee Steinfeld) and the ladies have lost their harmony.
This film follows the sequel formula to a tee: the original cast with a few additions must face a new, more intimidating enemy while confronting internal conflicts. They preserve all the eccentric personalities fans adored in the first film: Stacie (Alexis Knapp) remains promiscuous; Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) is still grabbing her goodies; Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) whispers strange confessions, which are a little more audible and still hilarious; Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is as carefree as ever; and new recruit Flo (Chrissie Fit) frequently makes comparisons between their first-world problems and her impoverished upbringing. In addition, commentators John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks) are given more opportunities to nonchalantly say wildly inappropriate things on air. With Banks at the helm for her feature directorial debut, it appears the pair had free reign for their routines. In general, it looks as if Banks took a lot of notes from the first film and tried to maintain the status quo when directing the second.
The first few interactions with the Bellas as a group is pretty ridiculous. Three national championships seem to have inflated their production budget, which has had a negative effect on their overall performances. It’s encouraged unnecessary theatrics, including pyrotechnics and gymnastics, for a musical style meant to showcase the fundamentals of human sound. The result is concerts that are not very enjoyable for audiences on or off screen.
 Pitch Perfect 2 s new opponents  Das Sound Machine
'Pitch Perfect 2's new opponents, Das Sound Machine
Universal Pictures
Pitch Perfect is attempting to achieve the same franchise status as the Step Up movies, which regularly release films based on the same narrative framework. However what the latter also accomplishes is an equal level of entertainment over all its pictures. The problem with this sequel is it’s just “fine.” It carries over all the correct elements from the first film, but still manages to only be half as much fun. The newly imagined “riff off” provides the most musical merriment — due in no small part to the inclusion of Clay Matthews and several of his teammates from the Green Bay Packers — and occurs around the mid-point of the nearly two-hour movie. Moreover, none of the Bellas’ performances really measure up to newcomers Das Sound Machine and Keegan-Michael Key outshines everyone in the room as Becca’s boss. Consequently this movie isn’t a soundtrack or script that’s going to overtake the original in popularity, but from which fans will walk away having mostly enjoyed it.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Hailee Steinfeld
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