15 ago. 2015

Pitch Perfect 2 (6/10): The stakes are higher, the jokes recycled.

"This could very well be the greatest conflict between America and Germany in our nation's history!”

This sequel to the 2012 surprise hit, Pitch Perfect, marks Elizabeth Banks’ feature directorial debut where she reprises her role as Gail, one of the announcers during the a Capella competitions. I was a huge fan and defender of the original film, which I found hilarious and entertaining. It was directed by Jason Moore, who decided to pass on this sequel to direct Sisters, a film coming out later this year starring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Screenwriter, Kay Cannon, is back however giving the female characters a strong and independent voice. The original film was a huge vehicle for Rebel Wilson who stole almost every scene she was in and it proved that Anna Kendrick was a solidified star who could be a lead in a comedy. No one really knew she could sing so well and after her success with the Barden Bellas she went on to star in several musicals (Into the Woods and The Last Five Years). She had always delivered strong supporting performances (Up in the Air being my favorite), but after Pitch Perfect her value has sky rocketed. It was an interesting choice to allow the incredibly gifted Elizabeth Banks to direct this sequel because it only adds to the female empowerment in this film. Like most sequels it fails in trying to out perform the original by making the stakes bigger, but it does manage to do some things right to at least make it worthwhile.  

Anna Kendrick is back as Beca, one of the leaders of the female a Capella group, Barden Bellas, along with Chloe (Brittany Snow). For the past three years they’ve been the national champions and have been invited to many events along with the rest of the female members: Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Stacie (Alexis Knapp), Cynthia (Ester Dean), Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), Jessica (Kelley Jakle), and Flo (Chrissie Fit). During one of those events in which they are invited to sing in front of President Obama and his wife, Fat Amy has a wardrobe malfunction and the Bellas are expelled from the circuit. They are replaced by the extremely talented and flawless German group known as Das Sound Machine (DSM) led by Kommissar (Birgitte Hjorth Sorensen) and Pieter Kramer (Flula Borg). In order to reclaim their status and be invited back into the circuit they find a convenient loophole which allows them to compete in the a Cappella World Cup being held in Denmark. If they want a chance to save the Bellas they will have to do what no other American group has done before: bring home the title. Emily (Hailee Seinfeld), the daughter of a legend from the 80’s Bellas, is the latest addition to the group. Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Ben Platt and Anna Camp are also back from the original film playing supporting roles as well as John Michael Higgins who is Gail’s co-anchor again. 
The formula from the first film is repeated once again, although this time with much higher stakes. Some of the recycled jokes work well, for instance the politically incorrect commentaries from John and Gail, some of Fat Amy’s lines (although it isn’t as nearly as fresh as the first time we saw her), and the fantastic Riff-Off hosted by David Cross with some great cameos from the Green Bay Packers. I think the riff-off in both films are probably my favorite scenes in each movie, but this one really stood out for me thanks in most part to how great the DSM group sounded. As long as the film centered on the rehearsals, riff-offs, and competitions it was a lot of fun, but what didn’t work this time around were the individual filler scenes involving Beca’s internship, Fat Amy and Bumper’s relationship, Emily and Benji’s embarrassing flirtation, the lazy latino lines delivered from Flo, and so on. The music was the highlight of the film and it did end on a high note, but the narrative wasn’t very appealing. The film could’ve benefited from a little more DSM.

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