Pitch Perfect opened small, but was a modestly profitable film that found an even bigger audience on home video and cable. And like Austin Powers before it, the sequel Pitch Perfect 2 exploded when it hit theaters in May as it made nearly $200 million domestically and enjoyed a larger international appeal. Pitch Perfect 2 also suffers from most of the problems of comedy sequels, but has an engaging enough cast that makes it modestly pleasurable.
Elizabeth Banks, who produced the first film, is now in the director’s chair, and she does an okay job at wrangling her cast. After achieving great success in the first film, the Barden Bellas a cappella group have to be knocked down a peg, and are done so when a performance in front of the president ends with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) flashing her crotch to the crowd. Such gets the Bellas kicked out of the national a cappella organization, though they hope to redeem themselves in an international competition, which is the film’s big conclusion. Unfortunately, their competition is the seemingly unbeatable German group Das Sound Machine who are led by Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), a woman Beca (Anna Kendrick) can’t stop complimenting.
This competition ties into the new developments in the film as Beca is interning at a music studio and the producer (Keegan-Michael Key) listens to her demos and finds them old hat as she’s mostly doing covers. Enter new Bella Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) who wants to sing original songs, which proves useful to the Bellas. Also, Amy and Bumper (Adam Devine) are a thing and Benji (Ben Platt) has a crush on Emily. The other girls (Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, etc.) are mostly used as punchlines, while Beca’s relationship with Jesse (Skylar Astin) is mostly kept to the background.
The first film was loose but offered an appealing cast getting into song-based hijinks, and had a certain novelty. In attempting to sequelize that film, Pitch Perfect 2 offers more of the same to lesser returns in a low stakes narrative that’s conclusion is evident the minute the international competition is mentioned (and that happens very early on). Most comedy sequels end up spinning wheels and covering the same narrative ground as the first film, but here there are good musical numbers, amusing cameos, and an attractive cast so it goes down smooth enough. Banks doesn’t have much of a voice yet as a filmmaker – visually it’s not a very distinctive film – but it’s a comedy and a sequel, so it’s not exactly the place for her to show off. It’s more of the same
The film is presented widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, while the set comes with a DVD and digital copy. The film comes with a commentary by director/co-star Elizabeth Banks and producers Paul Brooks and Max Handelman. Their talk is fun and though they spend time talking about locations, everyone is excited about the movie.
Knowing that the first film was bigger on home video, Universal loaded this disc with extras. The supplements kick off with “Bonus Song performed by the Treblemakers” (3 min.) where they perform “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and then there’s three extended musical performances, with the Bellas (2 min.), Das Sound Machine (1 min.) and then from the finale the “Clap Along” (1 min.). There’s also “Das Sound Machine Finale Breakdown,” which lets you listen to all vocals (2 min.), background vocals only (2 min.), beat box only (2 min.) and lead vocals only (2 min.) so you can hear how the song was constructed.
Next up are deleted, extended and alternate scenes. There’s a play all (12 min.) for the nine scenes that are mostly negligible, with the best parts being some additional lines from David Cross and more from the beat box-off with Reggie Watts. It’s followed by a gag reel (3 min.) and a Line-aca-rama (4 min. though it features no singing), while “Green Bay Rap” (1 min.) shows a Das Sound Machine/Green Bay Packers crossover act.
The rest of the supplements are very fluffy, but they do get everyone in the cast to talk about the film, even if all they say are superlatives. “Elizabeth Banks’ Directorial Debut” (5 min.) highlights that this is Banks’ first movie as an auteur, and it’s very flattering to the director. “The Bellas are Back” (6 min.) highlights the returning cast, and how happy everyone is to be back working together. “Aca-Camp” (5 min.) puts a spotlight on the camp retreat the girls take, and features the girls wrestling in the mud.
“The Making of Riff Off” (6 min.) is most interesting when it explains how the Green Bay Packers got in the movie, while “The World Championship of A Cappella” (10 min.) puts a spotlight on the final battle, how Baton Rogue substituted for Copenhagen, and how Anna Kendrick likes to goof in the back of a frame. “Snoop is in the House” (3 min.) is all about one of the film’s cameos, and Snoop Dogg says that he likes the first film because his daughter loves it. “Residual Heat Internship” (2 min.) highlights the role played by Keegan-Michael Key, “An Aca-Love Story: Bumper and Fat Amy” (5 min.) is focused on the romance played between Adam Devine and Rebel Wilson, while finally “Legacy: Hailee Stanfield” (6 min.) puts the spotlight on the new cast member. Everyone is happy to be here, everyone had a great time making the film, etc. etc.