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  Pitch Perfect 2 Raising Their Voice
Year: 2015
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Katey Sagal, Anna Camp, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Flula Borg, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Barden Bellas are an award-winning university acapella group who for the past three years have stormed to victory in the national championships, and are looking forward, in the time before they finally graduate, to winning once again. They reckon without one drawback, however, when they are performing at the Kennedy Center in front of President Barack Obama and his wife, along with a large amount of invited guests. It’s all going swimmingly as they belt out the tunes in perfect harmony until the entrance of Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) who is lowered from the ceiling from a harness; it should be a showstopper, and in a way it is, but not in the manner they had hoped as she flips upside down and her costume rips, exposing herself to all and sundry…

Pitch Perfect, the first instalment, was something of a sleeper success, slipping out into cinemas three years before this sequel to a cult acclaim which gathered momentum to justify a continuation when it was clear there was a lot of money in this potential franchise. Its selling point was ostensibly the acapella singing which popped up regularly throughout the plot, but decorating that was a selection of witty, self-deprecating jokes, and the fact this was a movie where the women were taking the lead proved attractive to its audience as well, combine those and you had what was genuinely entertaining with bright performances and pleasing to the ear. This sequel, on the other hand, was a different proposition.

Or it was if you listened to the naysayers who would either complain this wasn’t as good as the first one, or that the whole series was dreadful and what the hell was anyone in their right mind doing watching this anyway? It was true Pitch Perfect 2 was never going to hit the heights of what came before, but this was by no means a dead loss, and in many respects was very enjoyable; if the humour was ever so slightly more forced this time, the masses of people in the cast not getting quite enough individual moments, and the grand finale more sentimental than stunning, those were small prices to pay for a good many laugh out loud moments and songs well delivered. When this was released, it beat the supposedly more robust Mad Max: Fury Road to the number one spot in box office charts around the world, which generated even more grudges in some than Charlize Theron taking the wheel in that blockbuster.

So was this an indication that female-led movies were making a comeback? Elizabeth Banks, who took over the director’s reins for this follow-up, and Kay Cannon, again penning the script, had certainly proved with women taking the lead behind the camera as well as in front of it there was assuredly a great number of moviegoers happy to watch the results, no matter that a proportion of the audience who loved the first one were let down by what amounted to a retread of what had gone before. But as Joe Bob Briggs would say, if you’re going to make a sequel, then make it the exact same movie over again if you have any sense and that’s more or less what they did here, only with different jokes (well, in the main) and different songs. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld was in the Anna Kendrick role this time around.

Which might have left Kendrick a little like someone who had overstayed their welcome at their own party, but Cannon rescued her from that fate by giving her Beca character a subplot about making her way in the music production world, rather than landing her with some more romantic issues (indeed her boyfriend barely appears this time). That kind of tension was necessary dramatically, but more dominated by the question of how the Bellas would redeem themselves by entering the acapella World Championships, though even that was less important than sustaining their friendship now their further education was drawing to a close. This could have led to some down in the dumps scenes of the ladies working out their interpersonal dilemmas, but with fine use of humour and that uplifting sound of melody, it never was too bogged down. Some complained of the off-colour gags, but they were defused by always making the leads the butt of the humour, so the super-efficient German rivals were nothing to take seriously, and if it was familiar, why mess with the formula? Music by Mark Mothersbaugh.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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