Pitch Perfect was the mainstream indie darling of 2012. It was a chick flick loaded with the cold charm of Anna Kendrick, sassy remarks of Rebel Wilson and interspersed with great banter between John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks. It accomplished something its TV rival, Glee, did not. Being funny. Naturally, a sequel had to be made, and with great speed as well.
Pitch Perfect 2: Pitch Harder starts with the all female a Capella group, the Bellas, who are now national champions in a Capella, being suspended due to inappropriate behavior. They have many privileges revoked and decide to put themselves back on top by entering an international a Capella competition, where they have to face off with the amazingly talented (and stereotypically mean and evil) German Team. This places Pitch Perfect 2: We’re Back Pitches in an awkward position of Spectacle Creep (where the stakes are raised from the previous film). To help with this, some changes were made from the previous film.
Elizabeth Banks, previously a producer in Pitch Perfect, was given the title of director for Pitch Perfect 2: The Fellowship of the Sing, it being her first feature length direction. Her style isn’t out of the ordinary, but it is interesting. She accurately represented the modern nightclub and music scene very well with her choice of lighting and lenses. While she hardly had a Quentin Tarantino level of first film, she was certainly competent for her breakout movie.
With the direction out of the way, we have to turn to the script. This is the part that let me down. The script feels unfinished, with unnecessary plotlines and characters. For example, one plotline introduces the new character of Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), the daughter of a former Bella, who wishes to join the group. Her character feels almost redundant given the vast amount of screentime she has. Her mother (Katey Sagal) is talked about and shown a lot, but she has no conflict and is uninteresting. Another plotline that goes nowhere is Anna Kendrick’s new job. She applies for a music internship, wherein she builds her relationship with her boss (Keegan-Michael Key) and tries to make her own record. The subplot goes nowhere with no pay-off at the end, almost as if the writers forgot they put it in the script.
Another problem with the film’s writing (or possibly production) is its use of cameos. Pitch Perfect 2: The Bellas Strike Back relentlessly uses celebrity cameos in what can only be described as pandering. There is one scene involving Snoop Lion (the Dogg went to a farm upstate) where the whole joke of the scene is that Snoop is high. Alright. But that’s it. He acts high (terribly, somehow. He seemed more high in real life than he did as an actor) and tries to get laughter from the audience. That isn’t funny. That would be like me saying “Hey, you know Snoop Lion gets high a lot?” and expecting you to laugh.
The rest of the celebrity cameos basically boil down to “Hey, check out these famous people you like!” That’s a lame excuse of a joke, and shouldn’t be taken as one.
Furthermore, the whole script does nothing but pander to its audience. Most of the jokes revolving around Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) in Pitch Perfect were about her sass and confidence. Now, all her character does is make fat jokes. The same can be said for the characters played by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks. The duo were given a small amount of screentime in Pitch Perfect, but in 2 Pitch 2 Perfect they have a massive amount. Their jokes are funny, but they basically boil down to “He makes sexist comments, she makes snide remarks. Mostly he makes sexist comments and people don’t react” The script feels mathematical, as if the writers took a survey to find the bits people liked the most in the first film and wrote only that. This makes the good bits overplayed and many characters redundant and forgotten.
That’s not even mentioning the fact that the film is incredibly predictable. The Bellas are riding high, they get struck down, they have to climb up to get to were they were before etc. etc. There’s even a scene in the middle of Pitch Perfect 2: 2 Many Pitchez wherein all the problems are miraculously solved. Hear that sound? It’s the sound of a big machine, lowering God down to solve everyone’s problems. What a load of Deus Ex Machina
In terms of acting, Pitch Perfect 2: The Blair Pitch Project is neither stellar nor terrible. It’s leads, Kendrick, Steinfeld and Wilson, pull off their characters well enough, although they won’t be winning any Oscars. Apart from them, everyone else is either alright or mediocre. There is no horrible performance (except Snoop Lion, who seemed confused as to why he was there, and why colours taste the way they do) but there are no great ones either.
While Pitch Perfect 2: Revenge of the Pitch is funny, so are other movies this year. I saw this movie nearly two months ago, and still struggle to remember the jokes. It passes, definitely, but it is trying to be what its predecessor was by trying to improve the things that cannot be improved, and leaving everything else to revel in mediocrity. Pitch Perfect 2: Pitches Get Stitches tried to reinvent the wheel and then stick those wheels onto the body of a Toyota Camry circa 1995. It tried to improve on the things it did well on, and forget its mistakes. That’s not a good way to reflect. We don’t study history to learn from our improvements, we do it to learn from our mistakes.
Pitch Perfect 2: Snoop Lion, the Pitch and the Wardrobe gets 4.5/7