Pitch Perfect is one of my favorite films. Calm down, AFI 100 Greatest Film aficionados, I didn’t say it’s the best film; Citizen Kane can rest easy lackadaisically gliding through a bed of roses on an all terrain sled since movies aren’t graded based on the number of times I’ve seen them. But if they were, Pitch Perfect would have the number one spot, along with the next nine. If that movie’s on TV I’m watching it, and it is on A LOT. It’s probably on TV right now.
So what’s the verdict on Pitch Perfect 2? Long story short, which I will then make long for you: I could probably copy the review I wrote back in 2012 and paste it into the body of this review. Well that doesn’t sound good… Fear not, voices! I don’t mean to say that everyone involved got lazy and gave us the exact same thing we were shown last time. What I’m saying is that if you loved the first film, there’s a 98.6% chance you will love this one for the same reasons. And then some. Trust me, I did not do the math.
The Barden Bellas may have only grown by two since we last saw them sitting behind their giant trophy, but boy have they sure grown in style. It’s been a couple years now, and apparently mash-ups just aren’t doing it like they used to. The Bellas find themselves lost in the desire of the spectacle, and it doesn’t help that one of the leaders of the group has her focus split. Beca is off interning her way into a life outside of the Bellas, and though this does pull focus away from the group slightly, this aspect of the story balances well with and feeds back into the main plot in a way that makes it worth the inclusion. Plus there is a pretty great cameo that I in no way saw coming. Considering the Green Bay Packers are included, that’s saying something.
Even with Beca’s extracurricular activities trying to impress the ever-entertaining Keegan-Michael Key, there is still plenty of time spent with the Bellas, continuing on with what we already love them for. We’ve moved focus away from the Treblemakers to bigger game thanks to a new found animosity towards Germany’s Das Sound Machine, as well as a new side to Beca when her difficult exterior is evaporated away by the presence of a rather intimidating specimen of a woman, competing with Benji’s awkward conversational skills when he sees a pretty girl. We’ve got more inaudible divulgences from Lilly of facts I would only label as such coming from her mouth and no one else. We’ve got announcers who have only gotten more offensive with time. And most important to many, I’m sure: we have Fat Amy being Fat Amy.
The one-liners are as strong as ever free-flowing from Fat Amy, but if there is one complaint I have for the film (other than not calling back Chloe’s dip into the manly vocal range) it is in concern to the relationship between Fat Amy and Bumper as it feels a little forced to feed into everyone’s desire to get more Rebel Wilson. Luckily any qualms I had with it were erased thanks to one Hell of a payoff. All I will say about it is that this is the moment that Pitch Perfect 2 fully embraces itself in a blaze of heightened musical glory before looking over its shoulder, acknowledging what it has done with such unwavering confidence before getting back to what the movies are known for.
Speaking of: what’s an a cappella group without the music? Similar to the repetition of the older songs that kept the Bella’s from evolving in the first film, there’s a new obstacle impeding the growth of the group’s sound that must be overcome by the end of the film, but that doesn’t mean the music itself suffers to serve the story. All performances are catchy and entertaining, yet the movie still knows how to manipulate it so that you’re earholes and warm fuzzies are most satisfied as things come together towards the final number. They find a new way to make something different enough to stand out from the rest of the groups, and though the chills I felt as the Bella’s started their performance were most likely due to the temperature in the theater, lying about this physical reaction being due to the film itself doesn’t really feel like that big of a fib. It was that good.
As was the movie on the whole, so go see it already. Then see it a second time to catch all the jokes you couldn’t hear through the audience’s laughter during your first viewing. I know I won’t mind paying the ticket price to watch it again, and that’s saying something.