Once again, we are left to deal with a comedy sequel that I don’t think was really asked for when the original entry was so good on its own two singing feet. But “Pitch Perfect 2” is here for us to take a look at and sadly, it is struggling to keep in tune.
Most of the original cast returns for this, with the Acapella group facing suspension after a wardrobe malfunction with the American President in the audience. So, the Barden Bellas need to win the World Championships in order to regain their reputation, and along the way, re-discover what it was that made them the group they used to be.
Compared to the rise to glory of the first film, here we see the fall from grace, and road t recovery that follows. The members are still getting on well together, but with college coming to an end, their real lives start to creep in from the sides.And against much better opposition than before, they struggle to find form. It is more in line with a sports story than a music one, but is a pretty good choice of premise to go with.
The elements that made the previous entry work so well – the bond between the members and the slick comedy, are still on display here. The actors get on very well together and seem to be having a lot of fun with the material they are each given. Also, the humour does result in some pretty strong laughs from time to time. But the music, which was what drew in the crowds before, also plays a role here too, but rather than building bigger and bigger up to the final piece, it varies more due to the premise given.
But here’s the thing. For every good bit I liked from this film, and there another to directly oppose it and make me mildly dislike it. For example, the racial jokes quite often fall on the bad side of being offensive, and feel like such a cheap one-liner at times. Which is baffling when near the end the group clearly finds strength from their own diversity, but the previous jokes don’t align with that statement at all. Then there are the two primary romance side-plots, whose effect on the main story are very minute. They don’t hold enough emotional weight to make their inclusion necessary, and end up becoming slow points during the second act.
Montages also seep in through the cracks, and I mean the dull, progression-less kind of montages. You would think in a movie where Acapella is the main selling point that this could have been used in an interesting way to symbolise transitions. But nope, just regular music is played out. Finally, and this is a spoiler-averting point, the final song isn’t exactly…. all that great. Especially considering that the use of non-group backing voices is kind of cheating. The very end lands on a mediocre whimper without even telling is each of the character’s stories have been resolved.
It was so frustrating, because there are pieces in here I liked quite a bit. Such as the nice little cameos, the fun sing-off, the cleverly written jokes that pop up now and then, and the enjoyment of seeing the old crew once again. They’re a great cast that just makes you want to root for them. But, this film is like a picture not coloured up to the lines or corners – it is blotchy and fragmented in terms of quality and execution. Some serious punching-up of the script and set pieces was needed to keep this on par with the first film, but they either didn’t have enough time, or met opposition from some person or studio. It is hard for me to know where exactly to point the finger of blame, but my intent to blame is still strong.
“Pitch Perfect 2” would have been totally fine if it was just as good as the original. Just freshen the songs, and keep the jokes witty, and all would have been happy-golden. But this falls below standard by the racial slurs, lack of proper characterisation paths, and a diminished spark that creeps into a lot of the running time. It isn’t bad, but the fact it isn’t as good as you’d have hoped makes it a disappointment. I wanted this to be fun and entertaining, I really did. But things kept running against the grain, and by the end, I could only just say “Well, meh”. The first “Pitch Perfect” remains great though.
Thanks for reading!