“Pitch Perfect 2” represents the rare female centric comedy franchise

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A few years ago, a musical comedy of sorts came almost out of nowhere to become a hit. It was Pitch Perfect, a film that managed to defy minimal expectations and forge not just a hit single (Cups), but also now a movie franchise. Yes, this weekend Pitch Perfect 2 hits theaters, riding high on fan excitement after the last one made over $100 million worldwide on a budget of merely $17 million. This time around, the now franchise has loftier goals, but if the early buzz is to be believed (I see it later on tonight), this one is just as good, if not better. If so, we’ll have the rare female-centric franchise out there to combat the many testosterone laced ones already in the marketplace.

In case you didn’t see the first one, this is a music-filled comedy about The Bellas, the all-girls singing group at Barden University. Pitch Perfect centered around the entrance of Becca (played by Anna Kendrick) into the group, which took them up a notch. This time around in Pitch Perfect 2, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition in order to gain some respect after an embarrassing prior performance and the loss of some members to graduation. Kendrick leads the cast, which also includes Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Britney Snow, Alexis Knapp, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Katey Sagal, John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks, who also directs. Besides Banks making her directorial debut (taking over from Jason Moore), scribe Kay Cannon returns to write this one.

Clearly, one of the biggest charms of this series is watching the actresses all interact with each other. With Kendrick in the lead role and especially with Wilson being so out there, there are a ton of nice moments that really do charm you. Throw in Banks’ supporting role (her interactions with Higgins are often priceless, making him one of the few male roles of note in these movies) and there’s a strong ensemble cast on display. This time around, it’s easy to assume/expect that Sagal and Steinfeld will be welcome additions to the franchise. They could very well be part of why Pitch Perfect 2 winds up working as well as the first one did.

The other big selling point is the music. This is almost like karaoke in a way, as the Bellas participate in A cappella tournaments that basically invite you to sing along. Pitch Perfect even had a breakout single in Kendrick’s rendition of Cups, so there could certainly be something like that again here. Solid music in a film will always help to elevate it, so if this series is truly going to keep getting bigger and better, catchy tunes are essentially a prerequisite. Pitch Perfect clearly had that, and so far, everything suggests that Pitch Perfect 2 does as well, so fans can rest easy in that regard.

Going forward, the franchise will have to get a little more clever, as they either must move away from college or continually regenerate the cast. If there is a third Pitch Perfect, a decision will have to be made about Kendrick, for example. Either the series will continue to follow her, through her University experience and into the world, or it’ll have to look to someone like Steinfeld or a new cast member for the central role. I’m sure someone is already working on that, possibly even Cannon if she’s remaining with the franchise, but it’s not an immediate concern. Banks and company just set out to make the best possible film that they could, apparently with top notch results.

In the end, Pitch Perfect 2 is a movie that likely will satisfy fans of the first one in a big way while proving to be a certified blockbuster. Unless it underwhelms at the box office, you can basically count on a Pitch Perfect 3 at some point. The other thing to look forward to is now Banks gets to further her career as a filmmaker in addition to that of an actress, which is something I’m excited about (serious, she’s very underrated). This weekend, you can feast your eyes and ears on Pitch Perfect 2, so if it’s your sort of thing, be sure to do that. Even if you’re not into it, cinema fans should rejoice in having a viable female friendly franchise out in the world…

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Pitch Perfect 2 hits theaters on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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