It has been said before and it will be said again, comedy sequels ain’t easy. Keeping what is good about the first, but not treading over old ground is a hard game to play. However, it has never stopped Hollywood churning them out at a rate of knots and with Pitch Perfect having been ten times more successful than anyone could have predicted, it is hardly a surprise to see number two hitting our screens.
Three years on from the events of the first film, the Barden Bellas are now the creme de la creme of the a capella world and open the film performing at the Kennedy Center for President Obama’s birthday. Things go horribly wrong however, when Fat Amy suffers a wardrobe malfunction that sees her spinning slowly through the air with far too much on display. The embarrassment leads to them being banned from competing in a capella championships. Thankfully for the Bellas, a loophole means they are still able to go to the World Championship in Copenhagen, where victory would see them reinstated. Unfortunately, a crisis in confidence when faced with the German team Das Sound Machine leaves the Bellas questioning themselves, while Becca (Anna Kendrick) is struggling to juggle an internship at a record label with her role as their leader.
Pitch Perfect 2 does suffer in comparison to the original. It is not as funny, although it easily rips through the 6 laughs test, and the songs never quite hit in the same way. Although, with the Bellas crisis that is at times intentional. There is also issues with a lot of the characters being painted in broad strokes. Outside of the main core of the Bellas, we don’t know much about the others that isn’t derived from stereotypes. A South American called Flo who talks about people dying while trying to cross the border being the perfect example.
However, it does still manage to be a lot funnier than so many other films that try this kind of thing. If you remove the first film from the equation and instead compare it to its peers, films by the likes of Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughan, then it blows them out of the water everyday of the week. I laughed the whole way through this movie and Rebel Wilson in particular shows herself as a brilliant comic actress. There is a scene that sees her crossing a lake while belting out a song that had the entire cinema I was in, in hysterics.
Anna Kendrick also continues to show why she is becoming the star she is. She is a fantastic on-screen presence and so incredibly difficult to dislike. The cast that surround them is also more than capable when they get the chance. They make you like the Bellas and this strange world that they surround themselves with. Although, in saying that there are a couple of moments where the strangeness is there for no reason other than wanting it to be a bit weird. The perfect example being when they attend an a cappella riff off in the basement of a strange man, who zooms around on a scooter (David Cross). Why he does this is never explained past him being a bit ‘zany’ and it does feel slightly like comedy for the sake of comedy. However, the ensuing riff off is one of the highlights of the film and because of that it can maybe be forgiven.
Pitch Perfect 2 suffers from the law of diminishing returns, there is no denying that. However, Elizabeth Banks (who has now stepped in the director’s chair) has still made an incredibly funny film. While it employs the crude and wacky humour that Hollywood seems so certain is in vogue, it does it a hell of a lot better than anyone else is doing it, which means that even when it is slightly missing the target, it is still hard to get angry. Fans of the first will find more than enough to satisfy them here, while newcomers may even enjoy it more, without the shadow of the first film encroaching on their views.