Pitch Perfect is reminiscent of singing television shows such as Glee or Smash. It’s a film that’s not quite a musical, yet it’s not quite a dramatic film. When I reviewed the film a few months back, I praised its musical choices yet I opposed its many confusing story decisions. Looking back on it now (and watching it again after purchasing the Blu-ray), I’ve realized that I still very much enjoy it. The question is: why does anyone enjoy it and would we enjoy more?
Movieweb recently spoke with Skylar Astin where he admitted that Universal was speaking to the cast about a potential follow up:
I do have a meeting with a Universal representative next week. And I know that Rebel Wilson had hers last weekend. It’s definitely a talking point.
Whether or not we agree, a sequel to Pitch Perfect is already in the (early) works. Here are some reasons why that’s a bad idea.
1. Pitch Perfect is too much like Bring It On.
It is a very “peppy” movie with a universe in which A capella music is the crux of all major dramatic problems. In that respect, it reminds me of films like Bring It On or Drumline. In fact when you examine both Bring It On and Pitch Perfect side by side, you’ll realize they both share way too many similarities. Both films feature an indie brunette girl begrudgingly joining a club (run by an uptight Blonde girl) that contrasts her interests, both films feature (and revolve their stories around) various level of competition, and finally both films create that upbeat universe where various characters are devoid of personality beyond the stereotypical. You know how Bring It On continued its franchise (around four films or so), yet changed its entire cast almost every time? That’s to avoid a repeat performance and the obvious retreading of old ground. If a PP sequel does get made, yet is courting the original cast, it has already one foot in the hole.
2. If Pitch Perfect is a musical, then it isn’t allowed a sequel.
Pitch Perfect is a very confusing, very limited genre movie. It’s not entirely a musical (with an original score, or various dramatic moments conveyed through song), but it wants to present itself as one due to its musical interludes that admittedly are only set pieces. If it wants to be counted as a musical, then it at least needs to be confident in its song selection enough to let the first film stand on its own. Generally when someone attempts a sequel to a musical, it falls into obscurity fairly quickly (ex. Annie Warbucks, Grease 2, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public). The failure of attempted musical sequels leads me to believe that the first film should be so good as to not require a sequel, leading to forced rehashes or reboots because the original cannot be topped (just viewed through different lenses).
3. It relies entirely on relevant song choices and casting.
The only time Pitch Perfect truly reaches “musical status” is during its finale. In the finale, there is a creative mash-up of a pretty good amount of current pop songs. But how long will those songs stay current and interesting? With its unfortunate decision of choosing current songs to cover (and remixing them), any movie following the original will feel stale in comparison since its already obsolete. Even if the film selects a presently “current” and “remixes its business,” that will seem like old news since it has already been done in the original. The casting adds to this as well. Anna Kendrick is a big name right now (and to a lesser extent Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow), but everyone else is largely unknown. That’ll mean they’ll want more money, or at the very least, they’ll be harder to replace once they grow tired of the franchise (see reason one for why that’s a bad idea also).
4. Glee has overstayed its welcome.
Why do I keep mentioning Glee? Because it used to be in the same boat as Pitch Perfect. Glee is not quite a musical, not quite a dramatic story. Yet, it tries to be. And for that reason, it struggles. When Glee first exploded in popularity, it cast relative unknowns who were suddenly jettisoned into the spotlight. It was also unaware of what it wanted to accomplish. Like Pitch Perfect, it was planned as a standalone story (a 12 episode miniseries) that was forced to become a full length series. After it got the extension it struggled to reach the heights of that first condensed arc. It has now been over four and a half seasons and Glee still struggles to find itself. It arguably went through one terrible sophomore season, a so-so third season, and this fourth season is finally showing some promise (because it replaced half of its cast with new characters). The point of this is: I don’t want the same thing to happen to Pitch Perfect. I in fact, loved the movie for all of its faults. So I don’t want to see its name struggle and dragged through the mud for a few more dollars. The second go around will not be as good as the first, and I’m not even sure it could make it to a third film.
Pitch Perfect works astonishingly well for what it is. It’s main flaw, however, is that it’s lightning in bottle. It capitalizes on what’s currently popular, but who knows how long that will hold up. There’s also a feeling of joy radiating through the film. It looks like everyone involved had fun with the idea and that helped take it to new heights. Any other attempt at replicating the success of the original will only lead to phony performances and a lack of the subtle pleasantries (such as meeting each character/stereotype for the first time).
Ultimately, I believe Pitch Perfect worked so well because it was original (even if it thematically shares some things). In these days of reboots, sequels, adaptations, rebootquels, and lack of creativity, it felt nice to sit through something I haven’t quite seen before . I’d hate to have that ruined.