Movie: "Pitch Perfect 2"
(*no spoilers alert!)
After loving Pitch Perfect more every time I watched it and rewatched it again, I had high expectations for Pitch Perfect 2. Back with the original cast (plus major addition Hailee Steinfield as Emily), the sequel delivered a hilariously entertaining musical show. The second (like most sequels) wasn't quite as "aca-awesome" as the first, but was worth a watch all the same.
The major problem for the "Barden Bellas" (fast-forward three years) is that they've just gotten kicked off their championship rounds after a little-more-than-slightly disastrous wardrobe malfunction by Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Introduce super intimidating German acapella group, "Das Sound Machine," headed by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Flula Borg. The Barden Bellas go on a quest to save the future of their team by winning it at the Worlds acapella competition.
Featuring successful YouTube-famous group, Pentatonix, along with Snoop Dogg, Pharrell, Christina Aguilera and others, the cast was plenty with musical talent and star-studded performances and cameos.
There were multiple subplots, including Fat Amy's love affair, Beca's (Anna Kendrick) new gig and the rekindling of confidence and sisterhood; but, the performance overall was essentially a show more than a movie. Lacking clear direction and focus, the musical performances were more packed, yet still impressive. But a new song, "Flashlight," sung by Hailee Steinfield (written by Sia and Sam Smith!) destined to be the breakout hit in an attempt to echo the wildly (and humbly) successful single, "Cups" (but, no surprise, fell short). Also, kudos to you, OPs of the song — not everyone forgot you existed (at least they knew at some point, right?).
The returning characters were classic, needless to say, but new member Emily lacked appeal and delivered little to the plot or to the humor. Like her original song, my guess is that she was also destined to be the perfectly (but actually humbly) planned likeable, girl-next-door-ish Taylor Swift gal pal character. I didn't feel it.
The musical numbers were more than plentiful. But, with so many choices, no one stood out as particularly memorable. The humor wasn't quite able to compensate for the lack of plot, but the cameos (sorry, no spoilers for you) were enough to distract us.
Of course, there were lots of jokes and jabs (don't worry, insults were fairly distributed — mostly) and genuine in-character lines and moments. Without subjecting the movie to comparison against its more successful original, it was a funny movie worth a watch. But it's impossible not to compare: I admit that I did have high hopes for the second (always hoping for that equally promising sequel, right?) and this pitch fell just a little flat.
Pitch Perfect 3 has gotten the go from Universal Pictures after the impressive box office successes of the series. Though no one's officially signed on yet, Rebel Wilson has expressed strong interest in returning (how could they have the movie without her, honestly?) and what would the third movie be without Anna Kendrick (more debatable than Wilson)? Hailee Steinfield will most likely return after her "character development" (you can't make us like her!) and Elizabeth Banks, director of both Pitch Perfects, has not confirmed her return.
Most of the cast is technically graduating, but it didn't stop three-time super senior Chloe (Brittany Snow) from returning for the second (who's actually ready to graduate and leave college, amirite?). With the possibility of Taylor Swift joining the cast in the third (she's friends with Hailee, Skyler Astin and Anna Van Camp, of course), there's no doubt the third will continue to be anything but successful.