Would a mashup between Pitch Perfect and Fever Pitch be Pitch Pitch?
The original Pitch Perfect had a budget of $17 million and ended up grossing over $130 million worldwide. Pitch Perfect 2 had a budget of $29 million and in the US alone grossed over $180 million, so clearly there is an audience for the franchise, which announced a third installment due in 2017. The original Pitch Perfect was a surprise hit, and it may have been originally conceived as a one-off but with the money rolling in like it did it was inevitable that a green light would be given to a sequel. So to provide a quick recap of Pitch Perfect so we know where we are coming in to Pitch Perfect 2 Beca (Anna Kendrick, Cake) is a freshman whose only goal in life is to become a music producer. Her dad wants her to embrace the college experience however and insists if she joins one extracurricular for the year he’ll pay her way to Los Angeles. Beca accepts, joining the Barden Bellas, an a cappella group struggling to redeem themselves after their leader made a spectacle of herself by throwing up on stage during their last major competition. When Beca joins the Bellas you know where the story is going to go, it’s a story of redemption, sisterhood, and riff-offs. How much you enjoy Pitch Perfect 2 will depend on how much you appreciate a cappella music, the collegiate style in particular, and how you feel about the Pitch Perfect characters as all the main girls return for the sequel.
So now in Pitch Perfect 2 it’s three years later and we have a similar setup in that the Barden Bellas are performing on the national stage (for President Obama’s birthday in fact) when a mishap once again befalls the Bellas in the form of Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson, Bridesmaids) suffering a wardrobe malfunction. Disgracing not only their school but the institution of collegiate a cappella everywhere the Barden Bellas are placed on suspension which means they cannot recruit new members or fulfill their tour duties and since they are all seniors the program will die. The one thing they can do is use their title to represent the United States at the World Championships of A Cappella competition held in Copenhagen and if they win they will be reinstated within the a cappella community. And why are the Bellas allowed to compete in the world competition? Because the world hates them and the United States has never ever won the competition so there’s no chance The Barden Bellas will win. To add insult to injury the Bellas’ touring obligations have been swiped out from under them by Das Sound Machine, the German supergroup (led by YouTube star Flula) who happens to also be the reigning a cappella world champions the Bellas will be going up against. But that’s months away, time enough for us to have several subplots unfold until the climactic world battles.
As things unfold yes, you can see the road laid out for you. However it’s a pretty fun and funny journey. The movie feels more settled than the first in terms of the characters feeling more developed and expected. They don’t mess with the winning formula of the first movie too much. So what’s different this time around? More musical numbers and more cameos are probably the most notable differences. The cameos are numerous this time around, showcasing the broad appeal of the first movie. Within the first 5 minutes we see the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, Natalie Morales, Jimmy Kimmel, and Katey Sagal.
In terms of the effectiveness of the various subplots they were a bit hit-or-miss for me, with the Emily (Hailee Steinfeld, Ender’s Game) subplot feeling the least effective. Emily joins the Bellas without a public audition as a Legacy since her mom (Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy) was one of the most famous Bellas there was, which is a loophole in their suspension the all-senior squad is all too happy to take. The problem I have is Emily is never on screen for long enough to really make much of an impression. Beca has her own story as she struggles to balance the demands of getting ready for the competition with her new internship at a legit record company under her stressed out new boss (Keegan-Michael Key, Key and Peele). Fat Amy tries to deal with hookup Bumper (Adam Devine, Workaholics) wanting to make their relationship legit and Chloe (Brittany Snow, American Dreams) worries that if the Bellas don’t get their second chance her life will have been and continue to be meaningless.
There’s enough going on with the seniors dealing with the end of one chapter of their lives which has shaped them into who they are, the story doesn’t need and the runtime doesn’t really support digging into Emily’s story and of her worry she’ll never feel like a true Bella on her own outside of her Legacy status. Plus that subplot could have been scrapped to make way for more music. SPOILERS but the World Championship competition doesn’t show any other World teams perform outside of Das Sound Machine and The Bellas. The highlights for me during Pitch Perfect 2 were the performance bits we got from other groups outside of those two and I would have appreciated hearing even more music.
While Rebel Wilson is the stand-out from Pitch Perfect I’d have to say Keegan-Michael Key steals every scene he’s in this go around. And Elizabeth Banks did double duty this time, not only reprising her role of Gail, one half of the world’s most dysfunctional commentating team (John Michael Higgins again returns as her misogynistic co-commentator) but directing the feature as well. Overall Pitch Perfect 2 is a fun film, filled with music and comedy and occasionally heart.
Technical specs are impressive though needlessly so. The DVD will serve you well and really the Blu-ray is only necessary in order for you to gain all of the special features and possibly to hear the music bumped up a bit more. The video is a 1080p high definition 1.85:1 video transfer with no grain, no glitches, no lens flares or anything else to distract you. The video transfer doesn’t have a lot of action moments to focus on aside from lots of choreography of course, so it’s pretty easy for the technical specs to rise above what’s needed. The audio is where the interest lies when it comes to releases like this and like the video the audio definitely doesn’t disappoint. A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio transfer provides all the clarity you want in the soundspace.
There are lots of special features. Not only is there a director’s commentary but there are extended musical scenes, deleted and alternate scenes, a gag reel, a rap, additional musical numbers, and more featurettes than you can shake a stick at. All in all a very satisfying selection of special features which enhance an already satisfying Blu-ray release.
If you enjoyed the first one there’s more of the same to enjoy in Pitch Perfect 2 as well as a few elements amped up. It’s not going to catch you by surprise in the way that Pitch Perfect might have, but it still has plenty of laugh out loud moments. If you weren’t a fan of the first one stay away from this because there’s nothing that’s going to change your mind about a cappella music. You’re already a fan of it or you’re not, Pitch Perfect 2 isn’t going to convince you that you’ve been missing out on anything.