Written by Molly Dolan
A cappella; an Italian phrase meaning “in the manner of the chapel or the church”. How fitting, given the devoted fanbase who worship the delightful harmonies which musical theatre has given us. Popularity of such a concept has surged dramatically in recent years, or at least that is the case onscreen. Following the phenomenal success of ‘Glee’ – embracing diversity for the oh-so-impressionable teenage population – ‘Pitch Perfect’ opened in 2012 and was a sleeper hit.
The ensemble cast, centring on Anna Kendrick as the audacious Beca, combined to create a comedic and talent-rich film, headed up by relative newcomer Jason Moore. As Moore’s directorial debut, and with a modest $17m budget, the film’s eventual box office ($113m) and overall success was just that, a huge success. You only have to look on YouTube and you will still find videos of ‘The Cup Song’ still circulating today, a real sign of the triumph for this new wave of anti-instrumental performers.
Part of the ‘Pitch Perfect’ appeal is the imperfection of almost all of the characters. Although the storyline is one that we have seen a number of times before; outcasts battling society, outshining the popular, and all uniting in success with a dash of romance, the diversity of characters means that we can all relate to at least one trait on the screen. And the film cannot be mentioned without the term ‘Fat Amy’ cropping up. Rebel Wilson breaks down barriers of unjust, social stereotypes to play the integral role of Patricia AKA Fat Amy. Other female roles include the bitch, the tomboy, the nymphomaniac, the downright strange one and of course, Beca, the icon. All form The Barden Bellas.
The male counterparts, The Treblemakers, led by Skylar Astin’s Jesse, add a perfect amount of masculinity, showing that a Capella can be cool (right?). Add to this line-up some incredible, if not sometimes sassy, humour and you have the perfect recipe for a mainstream musical theatre hit. For me at least, The Treblemakers are a more exciting and talented group than The Bellas, but that just wouldn’t fit into what the film is trying to achieve. Of course the guys who are fun and popular (in a capella world) should win, but we need the underdogs to prevail to provide us with a morally charged undertone.
Following the apparent resolution of the first film, resulting in girl group The Bellas snatching the national title, fans were not left waiting long before the announcement of a sequel was made at CinemaCon (a third instalment has now also been announced). A long two years later and trailers have finally been released, showing The Bellas progression to an international a capella championship, a competition never before won by an American act. Elizabeth Banks returns as one half of the sarcastic, catty and somewhat misogynistic commentator-duo, to both star and direct ‘Pitch Perfect 2’, taking over the helm from Jason Moore, with Kay Cannon returning as screenwriter. The film follows a similar pattern to its predecessor, with an on-stage scandal – “Muffgate” – resulting in embarrassment and indignation for the girls, followed by a turbulent path that hopefully (and most likely) leads to the top.
Following the intense buzz of the first, that still carries on today and accounts for a number one song, a Christmas album and 6 film awards (albeit mostly via MTV and the Teen Choice awards), this sequel is a sure fire hit. With a budget this time of closer to $30m, box office projections suggesting the film could take around 245 million worldwide, not a bad turnaround at all. The only obstacle standing in the way of box office domination, will be the fact that ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ shares its release weekend with the highly anticipated ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’. With a very clear divide of interests between the two starkly contrasting films, cinemagoers on the whole will already know which screen they’re heading for, but the appeal of ‘Pitch Perfect’ reaches much further than social outcasts and teenage girls.
‘Pitch Perfect 2’ takes centre stage on May 15th 2015