After the knockout hit that was Pitch Perfect, a sequel was going to be inevitable. I don’t think anyone was really expecting the Barden Bellas to take off as much as they did, but with such an enjoyably quirky ensemble cast, fantastic music, and a great sense of humor, audiences made it very clear that they wanted more.
And thankfully, that’s just what they got. Pitch Perfect 2, this time directed by Elizabeth Banks, is a strong sequel that carries much of the same heart and charm of the original, but this time attempts to up the stakes for the Bellas by pitting them against what is literally a world of talent. The humor and dynamics haven’t changed much, which is probably for the better, and in the end Pitch Perfect 2 is able to succeed where countless comedy sequels have failed.
The film kicks off with the Bellas performing in the Lincoln Center for a gigantic crowd of people, including the President of the United States himself. But when the show takes a hilariously devastating twist, the Bellas are left suspended from what was meant to be their victory tour, and are forced into the media’s spotlight in the worst way imaginable.
However, through a loophole in their suspension, the Bellas are able to enroll themselves in the World Championships of A Capella in hopes of regaining their former glory. The movie doesn’t do anything new with its ‘comeback’ premise, but for the most part that works in its favor as it allows the spotlight to remain on the infinitely likable cast.
Probably the best thing that Pitch Perfect 2 does is give us more of the playful, sarcastic interactions and humor that everyone loved from the first movie. The jokes are played fast and sharp, with very few of them missing their mark, and the entire cast of characters seem to be having a blast. The only exception here comes from one if the new recruits to the Bellas, a Guatemalan student whose only source of humor comes from ill-timed immigration jokes.
The endlessly charming Anna Kendrick once again leads the charge,and this time runs the Bellas alongside the fiercely committed Chloe Beale, who has purposefully failed college three years in a row in order to stay a part of the team. Kendrick’s character, Beca Mitchell, is once again the star of the show, but when she becomes torn between pursuing her dream of being a music producer or continuing her work with the Bellas, tensions start to flare.
This is where Pitch Perfect 2 struggles a bit, as much like Beca herself, it starts to feel like the story is being pulled in too many directions at once. There are numerous romantic subplots in play, that are mostly entertaining in their own right, but when they’re competing with Beca’s own subplot at her new internship as well as the main plot line, it starts to feel a little crowded.
Thankfully, there’s not an obvious weak link amongst the different plots, but some trimming may have helped it flow a bit better. If anything though, I would’ve liked to have seen more from Beca’s internship, as it gave Kendrick some great material to work with and even better people to play off of.
This is especially true for the scenes between Kendrick and Keegan-Michael Key, from the comedic duo Key & Peele, as his character is a lot of fun and has some of the best lines in the movie. His humorous ‘anti-mentor’ role for Beca delivers some great moments, and I would’ve loved to have seen more from him.
However, when it comes to the music, Pitch Perfect 2 couldn’t be any better. The musical numbers are just as fun and energetic as they were in the original, with the biggest standout being the return of the Riff-Off, which this time involves four a capella groups competing in the basement of a self-proclaimed mega-fan of a capella.
This scene in particular is a ton of fun to watch, as it gives the entire team of the Bellas a moment to shine and lets them play off a great batch of performers, most notably the European group Das Sound Machine, who perform covers of famous American songs with heavy accents and attitude, as well as a fun cameo from the actual Green Bay Packers.
The finale is another obvious standout, and wrapped up all the loose ends in a very satisfying way while still delivering another stand out musical performance. While the conclusion leaves the door open for future installments, it could easily work as a fitting send-off for the main cast of characters as well.
While Pitch Perfect 2 struggles a bit with tying its different plots together, it nails the characters so well that it’s able to surpass its shortcomings and still come out mostly on top. The humor is consistently great, and had the entire theater laughing on more than one occasion, and the cast dynamic has never been better. Even newcomer Hailee Steinfeld does great, and meshes well with the rest of the cast almost immediately.
As far as comedy sequels go, Pitch Perfect 2 succeeds far better than most. It’s not perfect, and doesn’t quite reach the heights set by its predecessor, but thanks to a great cast dynamic, fantastic music, and offbeat humor, it’s still an immensely enjoyable movie that is bound to lead to more sequels in the future.