Pitch Perfect 2 Review

So I watched Pitch Perfect 2…

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I was really looking forward to this movie. The first movie had been an unexpected delight and from this one’s trailer, it looked like the sequel was going to be the same fun that made the first such a success. This movie gave me everything I wanted – it was filled with everything that made the first such a good watch. Unfortunately, it was the EXACT SAME FUN. I feel like I was watching a deluxe edition of the first movie, instead of an independent sequel.

Okay, basic plot: think back to the last time you had a great meal. Now imagine someone had made you regurgitate the meal after you finished enjoying it and made you eat it again. It’s essentially the same meal but a lot more disgusting and not as well done – that’s what Pitch Perfect 2 is.

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All sequels have an inherent tendency to try to recreate the success of the original. It makes sense, you’re only watching this movie because you liked the first; so trying to recreate the magic is fine but completely replicating the original and sticking a ‘2’ at the end of the title is a problem. This movie steals everything from the original, packages it a little bit differently and hopes you won’t notice. Once again, The Bellas embarrass themselves in their first performance; Becca (Anna Kendrick) is once again unsure of being in The Bellas; a new member once again joins The Bellas and tries to change their style; there’s once again a secret acapella rap battle party; Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) once again points out that she’s fat and has crazy confidence and The Bellas ONCE AGAIN, have to regroup and change their sound right before a championship. Oh sorry, I should have said spoilers but watching the original is a giant spoiler for this movie.

HAILEE STEINFELD, ANNA KENDRICK, BRITTANY SNOW, KELLEY JAKLE & REBEL WILSON  Character(s): Emily, Beca, Chloe, Jessica, Fat Amy  Film 'PITCH PERFECT 2' (2015)  Directed By ELIZABETH BANKS  20 April 2015  SAK40018  Allstar/UNIVERSAL PICTURES    (USA 2015)    **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of UNIVERSAL PICTURES  and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company & can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To UNIVERSAL PICTURES is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company.
Photo courtesty of UNIVERSAL PICTURES

I don’t mind repeating plot elements and themes (because that’s what made the first movie so good) but taking situations and transposing them from one movie to another with only slight changes in dialogue and location is just lazy and unforgivable. There’s no originality in this movie. There’s absolutely no originality in this movie, it at times actually feels like a spoof of the original. Holy crap, I just realised that this movie is about acapella groups and acapella groups are all about covering songs, this movie is a cover of the original – in that, it’s a carbon copy with only slight changes to fool you into thinking you’re experiencing something new.

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I’ve been ragging on this movie alot and it did disappoint but I really enjoyed the songs and performances in this movie. Any time someone starts singing or the groups perform is pure gold. There’s some great vocal harmonies and mash ups in this movie and this is the only real improvement from the original. This brings me to the only other thing I liked about this movie – Das Sound Machine (or DSM). DSM are a rival acapella group from Germany and the World Acapella Champions and main antagonists to The Bellas and THEY ARE AWESOME! Their vocal range, their creativity in covering songs, the way their German accents add a little bit more flavour to songs, I loved them. I was actually rooting for them to beat The Bellas (don’t worry, you will too).

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This movie really highlights the dangers of making your villain too awesome. DSM are an acapella version of Darth Vader and the movie hypes them up so much that by the time the final competition comes along, you know The Bellas are going to need to really step their game up in order to beat them. The Bellas managed to do this in the first movie, against The Treble Makers by changing their sound and style; but in this movie, it just seems like the only reason The Bellas win is because the script says so. It just makes their inevitable victory hollow and meaningless.

(L to R) Das Sound Machine, led by Kommissar (BIRGITTE HJORT SØRENSEN) and Pieter Krämer (FLULA BORG), are stiff competition for the Barden Bellas in "Pitch Perfect 2", the follow-up to 2012's surprise hit.

One of the main elements I enjoyed about the first movie was John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks as the two commentators at the Acapella Championships. They had some great lines and kept the performances light and funny with their injection of humour. I don’t know what happened in this movie but every one of HIggins’ lines were mysoginist, racist and xenophobic. I don’t mind a little dark humour but this was beyond that. The great thing about dark humour is that it may be inappropriate, even offensive but it’s never malicious. What the screenwriter did to this character’s humour felt malicious, like he had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to use the movie as a way to vent. I’m all for being politically incorrect but the jokes Higgins’ character tells feels tandamount to hate speech.

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The only cool and inventive thing about this movie was DSM

Overall, I didn’t like this movie. I felt it was trying to hard to be as good as the original by copying everything from the original instead of breaking new ground. That’s one of the things I loved the most about the first movie – it showed me a world I’d never really seen before. I felt the same way about Drumline starring Nick Cannon, there are tons of sports movies out there but very few of them show obscure activities such as acapella singing and marching bands. The movie had an opportunity to take us deeper into this acapella world with the World Championships but chooses instead to recycle the plot elements of the first movie.

This movie isn’t a bad watch, it’s just disappointing because it’s a carbon copy of the first. If you’re into singing and music, you’ll probably enjoy this but if you’re just a casual fan, watching the first movie is enough. 6/10

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