Pitch Perfect 2: A Movie About A Cappella Without Any Actual A Cappella

Pitch_Perfect_2_posterI admit it: I enjoyed the original Pitch Perfect movie. In fact, just for how fun it was, it made my top 10 movie list of 2013.

So I was actually pretty excited about the sequel, which opened big a few weekends ago. I had the chance to see it today, and unfortunately, it fell flat for me.

It’s not a bad movie. I laughed out loud several times. But it didn’t capture the magic of the original.

The biggest problem I had with it kind of surprised me: There isn’t any a cappella in the movie.

You might read that sentence and think, “But Jamey, it’s a musical. There are plenty of songs in it.”

You’re right about that. There are lots of song and dance numbers in the movie. But the cool thing about a cappella is that there’s no instrumental accompaniment–all of the sounds come out of the mouths of the performers.

There isn’t a single performance in Pitch Perfect 2 that doesn’t feature instrumental accompaniment. You can clearly hear it on top of the vocal performances. Some of it might just be studio mixing and remixing, but in most of the songs, you can definitely hear instruments and digitally-created melodies.

The surprising part to me is that I even care. But as I walked back from the movie, I remembered that in my early college days, I attended a few a cappella concerts at Wash U because I was amazed by how rich the songs could sound without instruments. My brother was also in a pretty famous a cappella group at Yale, and I was always impressed by what his group could do.

So even though it’s a relatively minor thing, it makes a big difference when the entire movie is about a cappella. It should have some actual a cappella in it.

If you’re looking to see a movie, I’d highly recommend Mad Max: Fury Road over Pitch Perfect 2. I haven’t written about that one because there’s not much more to say other than it’s one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen, and it’s in such a fully realized world. There might even be some actual a cappella in it…at least, just as much as there is in Pitch Perfect 2.