When Pitch Perfect landed in theaters, it was a surprise hit. Who thought that a film about a college a cappella group would not only be a box office smash, but also spawn a successful soundtrack and even a single (Cups) that would give its star Anna Kendrick a chart-topping hit? Naturally a sequel was green lit and one of the first film’s stars, Elizabeth Banks, was given the chance to make her directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2.
The action in Pitch Perfect 2 picks up three years after the first film. Our Barden Bellas are three-time national champs and living large as the best university singing group in the country. As shown in the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer, they even perform for the president of the United States. But, things go slightly wrong when Fat Amy descends from the rafters singing Wrecking Ball and proceeds to have her uniform tear. Thanks to gravity, she flashes the president not wearing any underwear.
The Bellas are banned from all competition, but Anna Kendrick’s Beca finds a loophole. If they can win the international competition, which they are invited to as U.S. champs, they could be reinstated. But, no U.S. team has ever won. Good luck with that, Bellas, you’ll need it.
So, our crew, without the ability to recruit new singers or formally perform anywhere due to their suspension, has to find a way to jazz up their program in order to have a serious chance of dethroning the reigning champs from Germany, Das Sound Machine. Oh yeah, that German group has taken over the Bellas' role in a national tour thanks to the presidential scandal.
It is hard to capture lightning twice and we were quite skeptical of how everyone involved in Pitch Perfect 2 would manage to replicate the charm and pure joy that the first movie evoked without completely repeating themselves or treading in the same water they swam in the first time around.
To our complete surprise, Pitch Perfect 2 manages to find higher notes to hit and does so in a manner that has us feeling sentimental and sincerely hoping that this is not the end of the road cinematically for the Barden Bellas.
Banks makes a solid debut as a director. She clearly has a passion for this world, as she was also a producer on the first film (and is again on the sequel). It’s got a fantastic pace and the song choices this time around are top notch and emotionally fit each particular moment. And, you know what? It's also quite funny.
There is one moment that feels replicated from the first film and that’s the sing-off. But then again in a movie about singing groups who compete, why not have another one? And this time out, it’s hosted by David Gross, who is utterly hilarious. And with all of the groups having their moment to shine, it works even better than it did the first time around (even the Green Bay Packers get a shot!).
The Bellas themselves are tighter than ever, both in sonic terms and ensemble chemistry. Where the first film was clearly mostly about Kendrick’s Beca, this time out Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Brittany Snow’s Chloe and Ester Dean’s Cynthia all get their moment to shine.
A new addition arrives in the form of a legacy (thus why they’re able to take in a freshman even though they’re under suspension) named Emily (Hailee Steinfeld). Boy, can the Oscar nominee for True Grit sing, and the film appears to be setting her up as the “next generation” of Bellas should this series continue. Our Pitch Perfect 2 review hopes, above all else, that this is not the last we hear from these singing sisters.
Watch Pitch Perfect online and see how this world got started.