Cast It Talent Casting Review: Pitch Perfect 2

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Pitch Perfect 2 should provide some fun counter programming to the CGI action gore

The summer blockbuster sequels are upon us! Avengers: Age of Ultron kicked off the box office season with record breaking numbers, and now it’s time for Pitch Perfect 2 to enter the fray. Although I make no assumptions that a movie will be able to equally go toe-to-toe with the Marvel juggernaut in terms of ticket sales, Pitch Perfect 2 should provide some fun counter programming to the typical CGI action gore found this season.

Although the original Pitch Perfect was a fun, well-made movie with a solid cast, I think even the studio execs were blown away at the film’s runaway success both in the box office and with audiences, making it a breakout franchise hit for the studio. Naturally, a sequel was in order, hence Pitch Perfect 2 directed by Elizabeth Banks who starred in the first film, as well as reprises her role this time around. The first film premiered in 2012 and fittingly, the story in Pitch Perfect 2 takes place three years after the events of the first movie. The Barden Bellas, an all-girls a cappella group, are riding high on their laurels. They’re the university’s premiere singing group and have won the a cappella national championships three years running…until now. After a hilariously disastrous wardrobe malfunction during a national performance, the Bellas are suspended from officially performing and operating as a group. Of course, there’s a catch to their suspension, and are told that if they can win the a cappella world championships, a feat no American team has ever done, then they will be reinstated. Game on.

In terms of the Bellas, the majority of the group’s members remain intact from the first film. Anna Kendrick reprises her role of ‘Beca’, the de facto leader of the group and an aspiring music producer; Rebel Wilson is back as hysterical ‘Fat Amy’, and Brittany Snow is back as the perky but oddly sexual ‘Chloe’. Although Snow’s Chloe was a senior in Pitch Perfect, she pulls a Van Wilder and refuses to graduate college so she can stay with the Bellas. Also returning to the Bellas are Stacie, Cynthia, Lilly, Jessica, and Ashley played by Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jackle, and Shelley Regner, respectively. These girls are the same as you remember them. Knapp’s Stacie is still overtly sexual, Dean’s Cynthia is the group’s strong, black, gay woman; and Lee’s Lilly is as weird and quirky as she is soft-spoken. There are two notable additions to the Bellas that include ‘Flo’, a funny Latina played by Chrissie Fit, and ‘Emily’ a freshman and the Bella’s only new recruit, played by Hailee Steinfeld. Fit is an up and coming actress who should see a noticeable boost to her profile with this movie. Her character is readily a scene stealer, and she has some of the funniest lines in the entire film. 

Steinfeld’s Emily is then a natural fit with the group, and it is obvious that her character is being established for future Pitch Perfect installments. Ever since she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in True Grit, she’s been quickly rising amongst the Hollywood ranks, and is already a viable movie star at only 18 years old. Interestingly, Steinfeld had a similar career boost from her role in 2013’s musical movie Begin Again as Kendrick did in the first Pitch Perfect. Ever since Kendrick wowed audiences with her singing in the first film, she’s been highly sought after for other musical projects. In 2014 alone she starred in the indie musical The Last 5 Years as well as the Disney musical Into the Woods. Similarly, after showing off her musical abilities in Begin Again, Steinfeld was seen in a different light, and you can bet that film put her at the top of the list for the ‘Emily’ role in Pitch Perfect 2.

Besides for the Bellas, other notable returning characters include Treblemakers ‘Jesse’ and ‘Benji’, played by Skylar Astin and Ben Platt; Adam DeVine’s ‘Bumper’, Anna Camp’s ‘Aubrey’, and a cappella officiators ‘John’ and ‘Gail’, played by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks, respectively. Aubrey and Bumper are the most changed from this group, having both graduated from school and entering the “real world.” Aubrey runs a team training camp where she inevitably helps whip the current Bellas back into  singing shape, while Bumper works close to campus and has a no-strings-attached type of relationship with Fat Amy. John and Gail are also back with plenty of offensive banter and commentary.

Out of the returning characters, the most significant developments can be found in Beca, Fat Amy, and Bumper. Although Beca still very much loves being a Bella and performing, she definitely has an eye toward her post-grad life as she tries to break into the music industry by interning at a record label. Fat Amy and Bumper are a fun couple, and when Bumper reveals to her that he wants to be more than just hookup buddies, their relationship takes a turn and culminates in an adorable musical moment. Personally, I would have also liked to have seen more developments amongst the other Bellas since each one is unique and interesting in their own right. It would have been nice to learn more about Stacie, Cynthia, and Lilly, and see their characters as more than just their archetypes. Even Skylar Astin and Ben Platt are a bit underutilized, which is a shame since both actors are immensely talented. Astin’s Jesse is still dating Beca and their relationship is just fine…which is great for the fans, but it would have been more interesting if they went through some kind of rough patch, or even if they had more screen time together doing couple things – if they sang a duet together I’m sure audiences would have died at the cuteness. Thankfully, Platt’s Benji does get a nice storyline with Steinfeld’s Emily as he vies for her romantic attention. Platt has also been making a great splash for himself since the first film, and besides for performing on Broadway in The Book of Mormon, he’s coming out in Meryl Streep’s film Ricki and the Flash later this year, and he’s currently filming Ang Lee’s next movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. 

Besides for the Bellas, Pitch Perfect 2 naturally has several other new additions to its cast. Sons of Anarchy’s Katey Segal plays ‘Katherine’, Emily’s mom and a former Barden Bella herself. Keegan-Michael Key, from Key & Peele, plays ‘Beca’s Boss’ at the music label, and he brings his usual brand of expressive humor. In fact, this is probably one of Peele’s more subdued performances, which is great since it helps to show a different side of him. Arrested Development alum David Cross also has a fun cameo and oversees an epic riff-off between the Bellas and several rival a cappella groups, one of which includes the Green Bay Packers, yes, THE Green Bay Packers. In terms of antagonists, the Bellas chief rivals come by way of ‘Das Sound Machine’, an intensely German a cappella group also vying for first place at the world championships. Das Sound Machine is led by ‘Pieter’ and ‘Kommissar’ played by Flula Borg and Birgitte Hjort Sorensen. Borg is an authentic German techno DJ/actor while Sorensen is a Danish actress.

Both play their roles as intimidating German singers splendidly. Pitch Perfect 2 also has a bevy of fun star powered cameos and include the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Snoop Dog, and all four judges from NBC’s The Voice (Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, and Blake Shelton). Even though I would have personally liked more screen time on Beca and Jesse as a couple, as well as the other Bellas, I understand the constraints the filmmakers were under, i.e. juggling a huge ensemble cast. Regardless, Pitch Perfect 2 is a worthy sequel to its predecessor, and the film has already done gangbusters in the box office – they grossed $70 million domestically opening weekend which is already more than the first film grossed in the U.S. during its ENTIRE theatrical run. Very impressive indeed. If you’re looking for a musical change of pace from the plethora of action flicks this season, you can’t really go wrong with Pitch Perfect 2.

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Kyle