Sometimes people do stupid things, like when cinemas that should know better show films in only one theater when the first installment of the franchise was a big hit. This happened here in Cebu when I went to watch Pitch Perfect 2, directed by Elizabeth Banks, the big, dumb musical comedy follow up to 2012 smash, Pitch Perfect. The first film was a surprise success and rode the wave of female-centre comedies perfected by film’s like Bridesmaids. While few people saw that coming, they should have been ready for the sequel. In Cebu, the cinema was completely packed, and many would have been turned away from the full showing. What is the appeal of the Pitch Perfect franchise, you may wonder?
The Plot… Why You Wanna Give Me the Run Around?
Well, it is not the plot. PP2 follows the formula of comedy sequels that have to go bigger to appear better. After three years of winning the National Championships, the Barden Bellas embarrass themselves during a very important performance at the Lincoln Centre. They are then banned from touring and recruiting. However, they still have one shot to redeem themselves. They can try and win the World Championships that come around every four years. The problem is they are up against the German super group Das Sound Machine (DSM), performing with all Deutsche efficiency in leather and military formation. That and the fact that the Barden Bellas is fracturing with their impending graduations from university and life decisions.
A long comedy running at more than two hours, this sequel does not have the narrative neatness of the first film. The original Pitch Perfect‘s plot was equally derivative as this, but it did generic to perfection. The good news is this is still a very funny movie with good songs. A caution though, the songs are very dated compared to the first film (a dearth of songs from the 80s and 90s, but almost nothing from the last couple of years). I don’t believe college students would know most of these songs. Still the renditions are catchy and the performances inventive and joyous.
Fat Bottomed Girls
In my mind there is really one reason to watch the Pitch Perfect movies, and that is the comedy performances of Australian comic Rebel Wilson (who plays Fat Amy). Rebel starts off with a bang, but her performance oddly dips for much of the movie before taking on full Rebel mode towards the end.
The surprise highlight of the film is the German contingent BSM; their musical performances are stellar numbers, and they bring in some much needed laughs in drier points of the film. The fact that they also tend to choose rock songs for their big performances puts them in my good books. It is hard for me to believe anyone could choose the Bellas over BSM, but their fabulous performances will delight even if you might be saddened by the end result.
You’re Still the One
Ultimately, despite its gaping flaws, Perfect Pitch 2 survives on giving the audience what it wanted from the original, a ton of A capella music and funny jokes (even if they are hit and miss). I particularly remember a few jokes about Filipinos that did not go down well! I don’t think anyone will fall in love with this sequel as they did with the charm of the first one, but we could all use a little celebration in the cinema, with a dance and singsong.
Pitch Perfect 2 is showing in Cebu cinemas this weekend May 15-17, 2015