The first Pitch Perfect was an aca-unexpected delight: a riotously funny, bawdy, warm-hearted, female-centric comedy, full of fantastic musical performances and unadulterated joy. Pitch Perfect 2, however, is so desperate to replicate the success of the first film that it chooses formula over fun, giving us a sequel that is little more than a very long, very disappointing series of missed opportunities.
The original’s near-the-knuckle but nonetheless inclusive humour is gone, replaced with unpleasant, often bafflingly racist jibes, and its air-punchingly irresistible musical set-pieces are gone too, replaced with either frustratingly truncated (I lost count of the number of times I got excited about the opening bars of a song only for it to end seconds later) or oddly tiresome space-fillers.
There are some good moments – the Green Bay Packers, of all things, an unexpected highlight – but the marketing push towards making this into a franchise rather than a film in its own right clearly dictates much of the screenplay; Anna Kendrick’s (presumably outgoing) Beca is under-used, Hailee Steinfeld’s new character Emily and her twee “original” song Flashlight (now a Jessie J number) are massively over-used, and Das Sound Machine – the ostensible villains of the piece, largely, it would seem, because they’re German – are a better group than this incarnation of the Bellas any day of the week. I loved the first film, but I’d struggle to say I even liked this one.