THE PITCH IS BACK! PITCH PERFECT 2 PREVIEWED
That commercial success always meant that a follow- up wasn’t going to be too far away, and although there have been some notable behind the scenes changes, Pitch Perfect 2 will be aiming to surpass its predecessor across the board.
Original director Jason Moore stepped away from the project after the first movie, and he’s replaced by directorial debutant, and one of the highlights of the original, Elizabeth Banks, who’ll also be reprising her role as the hilarious Gail AbernathyMcKadden, co- commentator of the TV coverage of the main events throughout.
It’s certainly no small ask for Banks to repeat the success of the original, but she’s more than proven her comedy chops in on screen over the past few years, and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be able to apply that same comic nous to her first turn in the director’s chair, even if she is aware of the size of the task at hand.
In an interview with abcnews. com, the helmer noted her understanding of the weight of expectation on her shoulders, saying “It’s a big responsibility, but I was really excited to take it on and try to do it confidently. The original was lightning in a bottle and it was such a surprise to see how the movie was received. The whole ‘ Cups’ phenomenon was a surprise to all of us. It came from the authenticity of the movie, and this time around we were really aiming to do that again and be pure in our intention to tell more of the story of these characters that people have fallen in love with.”
Although the original did have its critics, I found it impossible not to fall in love with the incredibly wellwrought gags, superb performances ( both vocal and acting) and thoroughly enjoyable, if slightly cliched, script, but it’s going to be tough for that formula to work all over again, particularly when the original hit the mark so well, meaning that there’ll need to be plenty of changes to the formula if it’s going to hit the mark again.
To that end, the ante has been well and truly upped in terms of the movie’s scope. Where the original followed the Belle’s on their quest for victory in national acapella competition, the follow- up tracks their progress on the national stage, potentially giving plenty of opportunities for some lighthearted ribbing of an assortment of cultural and national stereotypes, as showcased by the age- old riffing on “humourless Germans” in the movie’s debut trailer back in November.
In an age where trailers hit all too early, and the hype machine is pushed to breaking point as par for the course, it was refreshing to see as finessed a first look as we received for this follow- up.
Capitalizing on the commercial success of Anna Kendrick’s cover of Lulu and the Lampshades’ reworking of 1931’ s When I’m Gone, Cups, the trailer plays on familiarity to reintroduce us to the gang before launching into more comedic territory with a terrifically well- cut reel of gags setting the scene, and
hopefully the tempo, for what’s to follow when the movie launches in May.
The original cast makes a return, with stars Kendrick and Rebel Wilson again joined by Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Skylar Astin and more, as well as peripheral co- stars including Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, plus newcomers Katey Sagal, Hailee Steinfeld and Chrissie Fit, while Kay Cannon returns as writer.
From what we’ve seen so far, Pitch Perfect 2 looks well poised to recapture the magic that made the original such a riot, but there are certain pitfalls that’ll need to be circumnavigated, too, if the sequel is to prove a success.
The move from national to international competition is a logical step, but it’ll take some fine balancing to ensure that the movie doesn’t retread too much ground, while the weaker moments of the first, namely Beca’s love life, probably won’t see as much forgiveness if repeated.
Conversely, there’s a risk that things could veer a little too much towards the sillier side of things. Rebel Wilson perfectly straddled the line between portraying a likable, realistic character and a ridiculous caricature first time round, but she’s clearly been given a much more central role this time due to her character’s popularity, and unless that’s handled properly, there’s a risk of descending a little too far into farce territory, something that has been a real issue for modern comedies.
Nevertheless, everything is looking incredibly promising, and fans of the original will be hoping that the overall mix of story and silly can be nailed once again, and in a movie industry where comedies seem to be stuck in a bit of rut at the moment, there could be a lot more riding on Pitch Perfect 2 than you might imagine on face value.
Pitch Perfect 2 hits theatres across Canada on May 15th.