Directed by Elizabeth Banks
Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Devine
Pitch Perfect 2 is an odd piece of cinema in that it’s not very good but it’s still very enjoyable. It’s predictable, flabby, poorly paced and often downright cliched, but when it hits its mark it soars in a way that makes all its flaws forgivable.
Picking up a couple years down the track from the events of the last installment, the film sees the Belles banned from the a capella world after Fat Amy (show-stealer Rebel Wilson) suffers an embarrassing costume malfunction at a Presidential performance. Their only way back into the good graces of the a capella community is to win the world title – something no American group has ever managed to do. As is usually the case in this sort of scenario, the girls face stiff competition from some stuck up, elite rivals, in this case the German team headed by Pieter (Flula Borg) and Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorenson). Meanwhile, Beca (Anna Kendrick) has scored an internship at a recording company and struggles to balance her career aspirations with her commitments to the Bellas.
The plot is nothing to write home about but, then again, neither was the first film’s: it’s strengths were sassy humour, strong songs and a breezy clip that belied the simple narrative mechanisms running under the hood. Co-star and now director Elizabeth Banks gets the first two elements right but fumbles the last badly. Pitch Perfect 2 spends a lot of time spinning its wheels, with scenes that go nowhere and too many narrative blind alleys. Beca’s arc is a dud (she learns from music producer Keegan-Michael Key to make original music rather than mash-ups – big whoop) and several of the supporting characters are barely-there one-note placeholders.
Thank god, then, for Rebel Wilson, who gets a decent arc in the form of Amy’s ongoing affair with Bumper (Adam Devine) and most of the best jokes. Wilson’s job is essentially to deflate the film when its sisterhood-above-all theme starts getting a little too po-faced and she does it well. There’s also some real heart and vulnerability to the Amy/Bumper romance, culminating in a show-stopping scene built around a Pat Benatar number.
That scene and a few others – the climax, of course, and a weird interlude at a kind of underground a capella Thunderdome hosted by David Cross – are enough to buoy the film. In the end, Pitch Perfect 2 is decent without being the joyous surprise that the first film was. It was fun to hang out with the Bellas again, but I don’t think we need another encore.