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Movie Review: Girls Really Do Run The World in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

The musical-comedy Pitch Perfect 2 earned $70 million during its opening weekend, making it the biggest movie musical opening of all time. This comes as no surprise considering the original pitch-slapped the world and became a pop culture phenomenon. The song “Cups” became a chart-topping hit, catchphrases were born, and a new spotlight was shone on the world of a capella.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks in her directorial debut and written by Kay Cannon, the sequel follows the Barden Bellas in their final year of college. After a humiliating wardrobe malfunction (with Fat Amy bringing new meaning to the term, ‘thunder from down under’) at their Lincoln Center showcase, the girls find themselves stripped of their performing duties and potentially disbanded for good, unless they can restore themselves to their former glory by winning the World Championships. The Bellas must band together and rediscover their sound to beat their biggest competition yet in the form of German a capella powerhouses, Das Sound Machine.

Our resident pitches, Katherine Hernandez and Elizabeth Rosalyn The, review the sequel to the smash hit original, discussing the new stories and characters, what was on-key and off-key, and how it stacks up to its predecessor.

Warning: this movie review contains spoilers.

The New Antagonists:

Katherine:

Das Sound Machine made great adversaries for the Barden Bellas this time around. They were shown as very polished and mechanical, as opposed to the Bellas who were never as formal and always sought out a unique sound. There was also no question that DSM were crazy talented and that the Bellas would face an uphill battle, so it was never a sure thing that the Bellas would win in the end. Though occasionally the accents for the leaders of DSM were over-pronounced to the point of almost being comical, their interactions with the Bellas, particularly Beca (Anna Kendrick), were some of the highlights of the movie.

Elizabeth:

DSM, with their intense and intimidating presence, definitely posed a real threat to the Bellas while they were at their most vulnerable. They challenged the girls to step up their game, leading them astray from the heart and soul that defines the Bellas towards an even deeper identity crisis. For all of DSM’s commanding performance skills, their two leaders (portrayed by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Flula Borg) also provided some of the film’s best laughs, particularly with the male leader’s explanation of a ‘hot mess’. I was also amused by how the usually sharp Beca was too entranced by the female leader’s flawless appearance to formulate a coherent and sensical comeback towards her.

The New Characters:

Katherine:

The new characters fell flat for me. I wanted to love Flo (Chrissie Fit), but unfortunately her character, which could have added some much-needed diversity to the Bellas, instead ended up being solely used for offensive “jokes” and to further stereotypes. Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), however, was the worst. Her enthusiasm for the Bellas was over the top and grating most of the time, and the constant use of her original song, which wasn’t very good, became tired quickly. I would have much rather seen the original Bellas get the screen time that she did since those characters were so enjoyable in the first film and were graduating at the end of this one.

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Elizabeth:

The two additions to the group were a hit and miss for me. I didn’t expect to like Emily as much as I do. As an incoming college freshman, the daughter of a past Bella legend, Katherine Junk (Katey Sagal), and a budding singer-songwriter, Emily’s inclusion in the Bellas was crucial to the group’s present and future. I knew Hailee had great musical instincts from her role in last summer’s Begin Again, but her singing voice really blew me away in this movie. Emily’s earnestness and enthusiasm makes her a worthy pick to carry the torch for the next generation of the Bella sisterhood. As for Flo, I did not understand the point of introducing this new character in only to reduce her to throwaway comic relief. The immigration-related jokes went from alarming to annoying in a heartbeat.

Star Players:

Katherine:

It’s hard to single out anyone as being a highlight in the film because what makes Pitch Perfect 2 great is the ensemble cast. Obviously Beca is the main focus, and her character arc was one of the most interesting. It was really a joy to see the friendship and interactions between all the Bellas, and it was nice to see the Treblemakers back as well. Anna Camp’s cameo appearance as Aubrey from the first Pitch Perfect was one of the best parts of the movie, and she plays a pivotal role in bringing the Bellas back to their roots. As for newcomers, Keegan-Michael Key as Beca’s boss stole many of the scenes he was in, and his character had some of the best recurring jokes, like his distaste for one of his interns.

Elizabeth:

Each member of the Bellas brings something unique to the team, and their chemistry and strong bond makes this all-girl group even more special. If I had to pick just one shining star out of this bunch, it would have to be Rebel Wilson, who is always a scene stealer as Fat Amy. Sure, her ‘Muffgate’ scandal almost cost the Bellas their very existence, but her easy self-confidence, fearless attitude, deadpan wit, and booming singing voice makes her the life of the party.

Favorite Relationship:

Katherine:

One thing that I loved about this movie is that all the Bellas are supportive of each other. Even when Beca and Chloe (Brittany Snow) have a fight, it’s resolved quickly and comes from a place of good intentions. The friendships between the girls is probably the most enjoyable part of the film.

In terms of romantic relationships, Bumper (Adam Devine) and Fat Amy were definitely the highlight. Their interactions in the first Pitch Perfect were played for laughs, but in this movie they are genuine and surprisingly sweet. I actually felt bad for Bumper when he was crying after Fat Amy rejected him, and their make up duet of Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” near the end of the film was one of the musical highlights.

Elizabeth:

I’ve always had a soft spot for relationship between Beca and Chloe, as they built such a solid foundation for a friendship in the first Pitch Perfect. There was some distance and tension driven between the two gal pals due to their differing state of minds in regards to their post-grad futures (Beca is amped to start her career as a music producer while Chloe fears the end of her college a capella group days). Despite all the drama, the girls genuinely care about each other and it shows, especially when you consider Fat Amy’s sweet pep talk for Beca (and they’re roommates? How awesome is that!)

What I respect about Pitch Perfect is how the romantic relationships are supplementary to the main plot. It’s more about supporting each other’s passion and encouraging each other to strive for the very best, which is apparent with Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin).

Song Selection:

Katherine:

The song selection in Pitch Perfect 2 was fairly similar to that of the first film. A mix of old and recent hits, though leaning more towards the recent, used expertly to further the plot and fit each situation. Whether you like the songs or not depends largely on personal taste, and for me, I preferred the songs used in the first film. However, the original song “Flashlight” was definitely a low light for me. I’m not a fan of when movies or TV shows decide to try to write original songs (I’m looking at you, Glee). They tend to be cheesy and come off as a money grab and an unnecessary plot point. “Flashlight” is not an exception, as it was generic and cheesy, and the focus on the original song took up more of the plot than it should have. Though the moment at the end of the movie when they perform the song at the World Championships was nice, it could have been replaced by a much better song.

Elizabeth:

Seeing as the original Pitch Perfect compilation was the top-selling soundtrack of 2013, the sequel’s soundtrack had huge shoes to fill (and as of right now, they are well on their way, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart). I’m not confident that Pitch Perfect 2 succeeded in launching a new successor to the surprise hit, “Cups” (though that stripped down rendition performed by the Bellas around the campfire was a nice homage to the song that started a sensation). The contender for the next hit came in the form of “Flashlight” (the original song penned by Sam Smith and Sia, among other hit makers), which had its humble beginnings as Emily’s audition song and provided a powerful finale moment during the girls’ World Championships competition piece. While not an infectious earworm like “Cups”, I believe “Flashlight” (the Jessie J version) will get a decent amount of spins on the radio stations this summer.

Best Musical Number:

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Katherine:

It’s hard for me to pick a best musical number because, for the most part, they were all pretty good and fit the plot well. The Riff-Off 2.0 was definitely a highlight, as it was in the first film, up until that dratted original song reared its ugly head. The competition songs from both teams were strong and showed just how good Das Sound Machine and the Bellas were and that they both deserved to be in the World Championships. The “Back to Basics” medley from the Bellas when they’re at Aubrey’s camp was probably the highlight for me. It was a great bonding moment in the film, and I would kill for a full version of “Lady Marmalade” and “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) and some of the other songs they sang because they all sounded fantastic.

Elizabeth:

Besides that spontaneous Riff-Off (how incredible did Anna Kendrick sound belting out Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”?!), I really enjoyed the montage of all the international teams (with a cappella stars Pentatonix representing Team Canada!) performing Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” at World Championships. It was incredible and inspiring to see this universe taken over by the musical force of a cappella singing!

Favorite Scene:

Katherine:

Unsurprisingly, my favorite scene from Pitch Perfect 2 was also my favorite scene from the first movie – the Riff-Off. Though the World Championships and the Bellas at camp were great scenes as well, nothing could quite top the fun and performances of the Riff-Off 2.0. That scene had everything – cameos, unexpected shenanigans, and good performances. Though it played out much like the first Riff-Off with the Bellas losing to their rivals, it was fun to see the shadowy, secret underworld of a cappella competitions.

Elizabeth:

Among the many celebrity cameos in Pitch Perfect 2, the highlight for me was the appearance of the Doggfather himself, Snoop Dogg. The recording studio collaboration between the Dogg and Anna Kendrick’s Beca on the Christmas mash-up, “Winter Wonderland / Here Comes Santa Claus”, as wildly random as that sounds, was actually quite cool. It’s amazing to see current music industry heavyweights lending their talents in support of the Pitch Perfect franchise.

Biggest Surprise:

Katherine:

The cameos! And there were so many. As a football fan, my personal favorite was seeing the Green Bay Packers as part of the Riff-Off. Who knew they could sing? Snoop Dogg’s appearance was completely unexpected but it totally worked and the mash-up with Beca was a brilliant musical number. Seeing all the old Bellas on stage as part of the World Championships performance was probably the best surprise, though. It was fun to see generations of Bellas, including Aubrey, Emily’s mom, and Robin Roberts, performing alongside the current group, showing the strength of their sisterhood.

Elizabeth:

I was blindsided by the budding romance between Bumper and Fat Amy and left stunned by how much I ended up loving that pairing. Bumper was such a conceited pest in the first movie, but he’s such a softie when it comes to love. I always saw Fat Amy as a fully independent woman, but her determination to get what (or who) she wants is motivating as hell. Their freakin’ hilarious duet of “We Belong” showed that they just work together, in a bizarre kind of way. (Oh, and Bumper fans? You’re going to want to stay in your seats and stick around for the end credits…)

Biggest Disappointment:

Katherine:

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Like I talked about this earlier, the original song was the most disappointing thing about the movie. Not just that, but the new character Emily, who wrote said original song, was also the most disappointing character. Sometimes new things work in sequels, but this time the two main new things fell flat. It was also disappointing that the original Bellas didn’t get much screen time. I would have loved to see more of them and their development over the years, as well as a bit more of the Treblemakers, than getting a brand new Bella and a bad original song.

Elizabeth:

For an ensemble comedy, there was a disappointing lack of screen time for the graduating senior members, the hip Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), the flirtatious Stacie (Alexis Knapp), the quirky Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), and of course, the two apparently voiceless background Bellas, Jessica (Kelly Jakle) and Ashley (Shelley Regner). Seeing as this is their last year together, I would have liked to see more of a balance.

Pitch Perfect vs. Pitch Perfect 2:

Katherine:

Though Pitch Perfect 2 elicited some heartier laughs from me than the first, and I loved the emphasis on the Bellas being a sisterhood, it didn’t quite stack up to the first film. Emily and her original song brought things to a halt on more than one occasion and took up too much of the plot and focus that really should have been on the original Bellas. While it was definitely enjoyable and had the heart of the first Pitch Perfect, it just wasn’t quite as good.

Elizabeth:

In comparison to the first movie, the bond between the Bellas has evolved, the musical numbers are more ambitious, and the humour is more outrageous. While some of the jokes fell a little flat (and borderline distasteful) for me, the general tone and heart was still there. The original still wins, but Pitch Perfect 2 was a worthy runner-up.

* * * * * *

Based on its gigantic promo push, massive opening gross and strong word of mouth, Pitch Perfect 2 proved to be a hit with the public. With a female-fronted cast with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson at the helm, the success of the Pitch Perfect series is proof that girls do run the box office world. This worthy sequel definitely left the door open for future adventures with the Barden Bellas. Will this be the last we see of them? Aca-doutbful!

Did you enjoy Pitch Perfect 2? Share with us in the comments below.

About the Authors

___________________________________________

Katherine Hernandez is a staff writer at “The Hudsucker.” She is probably at a movie theater right now watching ‘The Avengers’ and wishing the radio only played songs from the 1970s. Please clean off your dirty library books before you return them, otherwise Katherine will be disappointed in you and secretly curse your existence.. Follow her on Twitter as @thethingiskat.

Elizabeth Rosalyn The is a Managing Editor and Creative Director at “The Hudsucker.” The Vancouverite graduated from Simon Fraser University with a B.A. in Communication and English and currently works in the world of digital publishing. Passionate about music, film, television, arts & entertainment, writing, literature, fashion, social media, and technology, Elizabeth believes that storytelling has the power to inspire people to change the world for the better. She identifies as an INFP, a Capricorn, a Gryffindor, a human jukebox, an old soul who’s young at heart, and a crazy cat lady in training. Follow her on Twitter as @ElizabethThe.

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  1. Girls Really Do Run The World in Pitch Perfect 2 | Elizabeth Rosalyn - May 21, 2015

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