After the Bellas are embarrassed in front of a very important political figure, they must compete in an international competition in order to save their reputation. Most comedy sequels are not as good as the first film, and Pitch Perfect 2 certainly follows this trope. I liked the first film. It had great music, some funny moments, and genuine heart. It was far from perfect, but I left it feeling fulfilled. I did not share the same feeling with this film. While the music remains fairly good and the plot is actually pretty interesting, the laughs are not as frequent, the writing is uneven, and the film as a whole did not feel as genuine as the first.
Before I delve into the negatives of the film, there are several positives that the film gets right. First of all, the music is incredibly memorable. However, it does not reach the heights of the first film (more on that later). I particularly loved the riff-off scene, and the final performances by the Bellas and Das sound machine. This is where the film truly shines, and I applaud the cast and crew for continuing to deliver engaging music and performances. Along with the music, I thought the plot was handled fairly well. I thought it took a very interesting route where the Bellas are essentially reaching the end of their time at Barden University and they are looking towards their future. This was handled very well when it comes to Becca. She had some tough decisions to make, as well as some harsh realities. Another plus to the film is also the performances from the entire cast. Everyone does a great job, even though some of the characters not so great (more on that later too). The standout for me has to be Keegan-Michael Key. He was both hilarious, and gave some of the film’s best moments. Overall, these components of the film were handled very well and are what mainly elevate this film.
Unfortunately, having an interesting plot and engaging musical sequences do not save the film. Going back to the music, while it was great, it did not ‘wow’ as much as it did the first time. The Bella’s final performance from the first film still stands as the best musical number that this franchise has to offer. I was really hoping that their final performance this time around would rival it, but it did not. It was still a very good performance, with plenty of heart, but it lacks the uniqueness from the first film. Another problem with the film lies with the writing and the characters. The writers completely shoehorned Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) in the film. Steinfeld does a good job on the screen, but her character is awful. Too much time is spent with her, and I simply did not care for her. She (eventually) has a major role in the film, but I can’t help but feel that her role could have been anyone else and it might have worked out a bit better. Instead, we got a sloppy 1-dimensional character who never really proves her worth (again, the character, not the actor). The problems with the character of Emily are also very prominent in the rest of the writing. It is very sloppy. This is why the jokes (for me) did not land quite as often as the first one. I found myself chuckling every so often, but never really having a good laugh. This is also why certain moments did not feel as genuine as they did in the first film. Good writing really goes a long way, and sadly the writing of the film was not up to par.
I really wanted this film to recapture the magic from the first film, and while it did in some aspects, it lost a lot of magic in others. However, even through all the problems I had with the film, there were some aspects I did enjoy. The film certainly ends in a way that could invite a third film, and I hope they do not make one (even though it is making so much money, which means they probably will).