The Barden Bellas have won the U.S. acapella championship for three straight years. But while performing for the President in Washington D.C., a wardrobe malfunction featuring Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) causes the Bellas to lose their championship and their lucrative tour, to the international champs, German acapella group , Das Sound Machine. The ladies try to get back on their feet, with a legacy member named Emily, (Hailee Steinfeld) but Becca (Anna Kendrick) is distracted by a job with a producer. (Keegan Michael Key) Fat Amy is distracted by the amorous intentions of Bumper (Adam Devine) and even new girl Emily catches the eye of acapella singer and wanna-be magician Benji. (Ben Platt) The only person who has not lost focus is Chloe (Britney Snow) but that’s because she is her 7th year at Barden. After another disastrous performance, the Bellas go to a singing retreat/boot camp, run by none other than Aubrey. (Anna Camp) Can the Bellas find their voice and take the World Championships from Das Sound Machine?
I liked Pitch Perfect, but I’m wary of sequels. This sequel is formulaic, the ‘champions fall from grace, can they regain their championship’ plotline is all too familiar, and even though a lot of jokes work in this movie, a lot more jokes don’t work. The Germans are standard issue superior Sounding Eurotrash, the jokes from the Latina member of the Bellas, Flo, are just insulting, and even the asides from Lilly, the shy Asian girl, aren’t as shocking. The many romances are clunky, and run contrary to the supposed feminism of the film. The ending is eminently predictable. The music is good, but the potential viewer can get the soundtrack for the songs, sitting through half a good movie is not really worth it.
The acting is ok, Anna Kendrick’s performance seemed forced, like she is going through the motions, Rebel Wilson, the breakout star of the first movie hams it up relentlessly and that ruins her performance. Hailee Steinfeld, the new addition doesn’t add much comically, but she can at least sing. Katy Segal of Married with Children fame is wasted as Emily’s mom, she is a great singer and has impeccable comedic timing. Keegan Michael Key from Key and Peele is wasted as well. Elizabeth Banks hams it up also as Gail, the inappropriate acapella announcer.
Elizabeth Banks has built a cottage industry for herself with these movies, as actress, director and producer. I’m not sure what is so noteworthy about her directing, she stages a few songs, but there’s nothing visually or technically outstanding about this movie, the pacing is ok, but the movie is too long. Banks gets so-so performances from the actresses here. Banks had a 29 million dollar budget, I guess that’s low for Hollywood standards, and besides Anna Kendrick’s salary, the money was spent on nothing spectacular. The movie was filmed in Baton Rouge, they didn’t even go to Denmark. But alas, it made 287 million, so there is going to be a sequel, although they seem to be running out of plot, unless the Bellas battle extraterrestrials. Who else is left?
Pitch Perfect Two: Winding up for another pitch.