Although the original “Pitch Perfect” turned out to be an unexpected treat, I was wary of the sequel. Sometimes when a sleeper hit gets a sequel, it’s hamstrung by the creators not being sure what made the original recipe so tasty and it ends up overcooked and disappointing.
Thankfully, original writer Kay Cannon and debut Director Elizabeth Banks know exactly what they’re doing in the kitchen and thanks to the tangy musical numbers, rich zesty characters, generous amounts of cheese and a healthy dollop of creamy béchamel Bechdel sauce, “Pitch Perfect 2” is warm, nourishing cinematic comfort food.
When the Barden Bellas successful run is brought to an abrupt end by Fat Amy’s Presidentially offensive wardrobe malfunction, the group find themselves banned from performing and on the brink of being disbanded. They only have one shot at redemption: they need to win the A Capella World Championship – something no American team has ever done.
Although in some respects the sequel uses some of the opening notes of the original, it stops itself from being a stale cover version by avoiding the common pitfalls of sequels. It doesn’t undo or disrupt any of the happy endings from the first film, so there are no unnecessary romantic detours between Anna Kendrick’s Beca and Skylar Astin’s Jesse and everyone who found their place in the group and the world manages to carry on just fine here. The whacky group dynamic which ended the first film so triumphantly is still in effect, allowing room for new characters to come in and make the zany a capella world much wider.
Most notable newcomer Hailee Steinfeld blends in well but none of the original cast are short-changed, with everyone getting little moments to shine. How much you enjoy the film will probably be directly proportional to your tolerance for Rebel Wilson’s free-wheeling stream of consciousness comedy, but she doesn’t dominate the sequel the way you might be expecting. Even the unexpectedly returning characters fit in well, although the side plot involving Adam DeVine’s Bumper doesn’t really add anything to the film and his scenes could have been cut without hurting anything apart from nostalgia (although we’d lose a cracking Fat Amy rendition of Pat Benetar’s ‘We Belong’). With Snoop Dogg, David Cross and even the Green Bay Packers popping in for fun cameos, the film’s MVP might still be John Michael Higgins as the increasingly un-PC and close-to-the-bone a capella commentator.
Affirmative, snarky and unashamedly hilarious, this cunningly counter-programmed alternative to “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a good time on its own merits: a musical comedy sequel that hits all the right notes.