When Pitch Perfect became a smash, of course a sequel was greenlit. But the problem with comedy sequels is that they tend to be rehashes of the same formula, and as a result not as funny.
I’m happy to report that Pitch Perfect 2 does not suffer from sequel-itis, for the most part.
The story picks up three years after the first movie, and the Bellas are on top of the world. They are three-time defending champs, and are picked to entertain the President for his birthday. Unfortunately an accident occurs that causes Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) to flash the President, and results in the Barden Bellas being banned. They lose their shot at a future title, and they lose a national tour, which gets given to the German champions Das Sound Machine.
Beca (Anna Kendricks) makes a bet with the a capella organizers John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks), that if the Bellas win the World Championships, the Bellas get reinstated. Since no American team has ever won World, the bet gets accepted.
And the Bellas’ biggest competition? You guessed it…Das Sound Machine, which definitely plays on the German stereotypes a bit, but in a humorous way. DSM’s Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen), delights in taunting tiny Beca, and her sidekick Pieter (Flula Borg) amps up the crazy, especially with his accent.
As if that isn’t enough discordance, Beca has taken a secret internship with a record producer (Keegan-Michael Kay), which is distracting her from fully committing to getting the Bellas back on top.
But they have a secret asset in a new member, Emily (a delightful Hailee Steinfeld), who is a legacy member – her mom (an underused Katey Sagal) was a prominent Bella. Emily also hits it off with Treblemaker Benji (Ben Platt), and it’s a sweet sub-storyline. They even have a little help from a now-departed Bella, Aubrey (Anna Camp).
All of this takes them to the World Championships in “sunny Copenhagen” as Chloe (Brittany Snow) joyously exclaims. Of course, it’s raining when they get there.
Will they win the World Championships? And more importantly, what about the music? Well, I’m happy to say the song choices are spot on, as they were with the first movie. My favorite mash-ups include Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Do In The Dark (Light Em Up)” mixed with DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” performed by DSM, and a Bella mash-up that includes songs like Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” and Pat Benatar’s “We Belong,” with a pretty “snappy” intro. You’ll see what I mean when you see the movie.
There is also one original song, “Flashlight,” which in the story is written by Emily and produced by Becca. It’s not quite as catchy as “Cups” from the first Pitch Perfect, but it’s pretty darn close, and if you can make it through the last stage performance of the song without feeling a few tears welling, you’re stronger than I am.
Overall, it was really funny, including several belly-laugh moments. Favorite scenes include one where Fat Amy tries to woo Bumper (Adam Devine) with Pat Benatar (and the crowd’s reaction after), and a huge Riff Off battle scene featuring David Cross and the Green Bay Packers.
I also laughed at lot at scenes where Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), still the quiet one, also turns out to be the extremely weird one as she is more comfortable with her Bella sisters.
But there were also a lot of jokes that played on sterotypes…and badly. For instance, a Guatamalan character (played by Chrissie Fit) was constantly making comments about her poor life prior to living in the U.S. that was full of immigrant sterotypes. And I could’ve done without the script having Cynthia (Ester Dean), the black lesbian Bella, touch another Bella’s breasts without permission. That’s so not cool PP2.
I also quickly grew tired of the misogynistic and bigoted comments made by John while his a capella partner Gail looked on in horror. This is a case of more not being better when it comes to comedy.
But other than those few missteps, Pitch Perfect 2 hits the right notes. It’s got great music, a mostly funny script, and real character progression. I also enjoyed the cameos by the likes of a capella group Pentatonix, comedian Reggie Watts, and broadcaster Robin Roberts. They were well placed and added to the story. Kudos also to Elizabeth Banks for pulling double-duty as director of the movie. It had a nice comedic flow.
If you enjoyed the first movie, Pitch Perfect 2 will entertain just as much. Also be sure to stay through the credits for a bonus scene that fans of “The Voice” will love.
Pitch Perfect 2 is rated PG-13 (but may be a bit raunchy for those under 16), and distributed by Universal Pictures. It is in theaters May 15, 2015. The Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack is currently available at retailers like Amazon.
For more information, visit pitchperfectmovie.com.
All images courtesy of Universal Pictures.
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