|'A sequel that ultimately fails to emerge from under its thick layer of unpleasant and unfunny material'.|
Whilst the first Pitch Perfect was more often than not a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a few minutes shy of two hours, it achieved this in spite of a great deal of comedy that either missed its mark or mistook being offensive for being humorous. Unfortunately, Pitch Perfect 2 director Elizabeth Banks not only fails to recognise this, but actually appears to believe the opposite is true. The result is a sequel that ultimately fails to emerge from under its thick layer of unpleasant and unfunny material.
There are elements to enjoy here, most notably the scenes in which the acappella arrangements are allowed to take centre stage. To a marginally lesser degree than in the previous film, the musical performances are consistently solid and entertaining. A five-way "riff off" between different acappella groups is a mid-film highlight, whilst the final act set at the World Acappella Championships ensures the film closes on a musical high.
However, many of the film's problems arise from Banks too often shoving the music aside in favour of joke after joke made at the expense of a variety of different social groups. Pitch Perfect 2 opens with a stream of these ill-advised attempts at humour from competition commentary team John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Banks) that immediately smears the film with a distinctly unpleasant flavour.
Whilst John and Gail are shoehorned in at numerous points to deliver more unpalatable comedy, several other characters also slip in quips of a similar nature throughout. Guatemalan exchange student Flo (Chrissie Fit), a new addition to the Barden Bellas, exists purely to spout uninspired stereotypes about life in Central America. Sadly, she is far from the only example of this lazy use of clichéd characters and ideas within Pitch Perfect 2. With their cartoonish accents and oh-so-funny broken English, acappella group "Das Sound Machine" are about as fresh and original in their portrayal of Germans as an episode of 'Allo 'Allo.
There's little inspiration to be found elsewhere, with Banks regularly falling back on stale college movie stock scenarios to pad matters out. With a plot as thinly written and haphazard in its execution as this, it's something the director has to do more and more often. A subplot involving Beca (Anna Kendrick) becoming an intern at a recording studio initially holds promise but ultimately delivers far less than it should. Most of the Bellas are allowed to simply coast on from where they were left at the end of the last film, whilst new addition Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is given painfully little to do for much of the film.
With a third instalment of Pitch Perfect already confirmed (of course), it's hard to see the series leaving behind its unsuccessful un-PC comedy completely. Hopefully, however, the balance will be redressed - and the story beefed up - from what Pitch Perfect 2 delivers, thereby allowing the trilogy to be rounded off whilst providing at least the same level of undemanding entertainment as seen in the original.
Pitch Perfect 2 is released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 21st September 2015.