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    Pitch Perfect 2 (2015): Movie Review

    "Very musical but generic and too cliche."

    In 2012, artists and music enthusiasts around the world were rocked to the core as Anna Kendrick’s Beca Mitchell sang “When I’m Gone” while playing cups in Pitch Perfect. The movie was a sleeper hit, staying in the box office hit for a long time in many countries around the world. Now, Beca and the Barden Bellas are back to sing again in the sequel Pitch Perfect 2. Is there melody better this time? Or do they miss the mark that the first movie had set? 

    The film opens with the Barden Bellas performing for President Obama and the First Lady at the Kennedy Center. The group is now enjoying the status of being at the top of their game as a cappella group. However, a scandalous mishap happens when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), making a sky-high entrance to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” wrecks her too-tight Spandex britches. As she struggles to stay afloat in the fiber straps, the rip continues to expand, exposing her overwhelming well-kept secrets (apparently not secrets anymore) to the President and to the rest of the world. The embarrassment sends devastating repercussions to the team. Suspended and unable to compete and do their tour, the Barden Bellas must redeem themselves by participating in the international a cappella competition, even though US has never ever bagged the championship title, and even up against the dreaded German team. But first and foremost, the group must reunite and fine tune their harmonies again.

    Pitch Perfect 2 runs for approximately two hours with nothing much happening. It is very predictable and the plot is similar to the first film, although now, the events are much grander in scheme (global recognition!). Essentially, the story goes the same way – the Bellas face incriminating humiliation, them becoming underdogs, then someone new comes to give a breath of fresh air, some sort of retreat and team-building happens, and finally they triumph. The movie is congested with too much music that characters failed to develop into people we will deeply root for, maybe except for Beca. Still, it feels like Beca have been bullied or belittled several times in the movie – about her height, looks and even her talents (Glee alert!).

    If Beca had been the catalyst for change in the first movie, it is Emily Junk (Hailee Steinfeld) this time. She brought something new to the team with her song-writing skills. Similar to Beca, she failed to shine in the first showdown but her talent had made the big difference in the end. But unlike Beca, Emily Junk had no solid backstory to make us cheer for her. She lingered in the background, contented of being just an accessory to the team instead of stepping up for her voice to be heard. She could possibly lead Pitch Perfect 3 (if there is), but it will still be Beca who will pull the audiences.

    Pitch Perfect 2 is undeniably funny; thanks mostly to Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy) whose natural flare for comedy is flawless and brilliant. But what happened to Hana Mae Lee? Why was her character Lilly Onakurama reduced to an insignificant gibberish at the sideline? Where is everybody else? What happened to the drama queens in the previous film? And why is John Michael Higgins being so mean as the commentator John Smith? His remarks on a cappella singers being too ugly to be cheerleaders and about some ladyboys from the Philippines are all too familiar. Is that you Sue Sylvester (Glee alert again!)? Or just your copycat? 

    The best thing about the movie is really its music – the selection, arrangement and mixing. Very noteworthy is the showdown at the mansion. The songs are great, very familiar and relevant and the spontaneity of the moment is just believable. Though that scene took a substantial amount of time out of the film, it was very entertaining and engaging. The second showdown towards the end was kind of a let-down. The participants from other countries appeared to be mediocre, uninteresting and lacklustre (c’mon that an international competition!). The original composition performed by the Bellas is praiseworthy though; it is current, moving and refreshing. It is just a wonder why are the old Bellas were onstage. Is that allowed in any show choir competition? 

    In general, as alerted throughout, Pitch Perfect 2 is a perfect retelling of television hit show Glee (particularly season 1 and 2) on the big screen. They follow the same formula – a group of underdogs with extra ordinary talents and who, after being trashed and bullied, rise up to be champions. Using original songs in a competition is very Glee-like, too. But unlike Glee, the movie is not very successful in establishing solid connection between the cast and the audience. So in the end, it is not the Bellas that we loved and came to see. It’s their beautiful mash-ups and exciting songs that made us want to see them in cinemas and everywhere else. 



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