THE PITCH IS BACK! PITCH PER­FECT 2 PRE­VIEWED

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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.

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