Pitch Perfect 2 full movie review - "Pitch Perfect 2" isn't perfect, but its pitch is every bit as good as the original.
One of the really cool things about movies in the early 21st Century is the increasing diversity ? in terms of the characters being written, the actors being hired, the points of view being expressed and the growing variety in the types of movies being made.
Take "Pitch Perfect 2" (PG-13, 1:55) for example. It tells a story about (of all things) a college singing group, it shows "nerdy" characters as basically no different than anyone else ? and the movie is a big hit! Would this have happened 10 or 20 years ago? And how about this: The movie is written by a woman (Kay Cannon), directed by another woman (Elizabeth Banks), co-produced by both of those women (and three men) and stars men and women representing different races, nationalities, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Diversity ? AND progress! Sure, most of these groups' identities are fodder for humor, but hey, this IS a comedy ? and everyone is made fun of equally. None of the jokes are mean-spirited, and you, the audience member, are laughing WITH these different groups even as you're laughing at them ? and maybe even laughing at yourself a little. The real question is: are those jokes actually funny ? and, is the movie, as a whole, worth seeing? "Pitch Perfect 2" picks up three years after its predecessor left off. The freshmen of the college a cappella singing group called the Bellas, at the fictional Barden University, are now seniors, to include aspiring music producer Beca (Anna Kendrick), who is now the Bella's leader, overly-confident Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), low-talking Lilly (Hanna Mae Lee) and the Bellas' one black member, Cynthia (Ester Dean), as well as Beca's boyfriend and male counterpart in the Barden Treblemakers, Jesse (Skylar Astin) and his best friend, the magic-loving and girl-fearing Benji (Ben Platt). Another one of the Bellas, Chloe (Brittany Snow), the one who recruited Beca in the first film, is also a senior ? for the fourth year in a row (failing required classes on purpose), because she just can't let go of her involvement with the Bellas. Some of the singers from the previous movie have graduated, but still turn up in this one, including the former Treblemakers' leader, Bumper (Adam DeVine), who briefly worked for John Mayer, but is now a security guard at Barden, and former Bellas' co-leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), who now runs a nature retreat where businesses send their employees for team-building activities. In addition, the Bellas have added Flo (Chrissie Fit), a hilariously pessimistic immigrant from Guatemala, and they also add a talented song-writing freshman named Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who the Bellas call "Legacy" because her mother (Katey Sagal) was a former leader of the Bellas. Returning to comment on the goings-on are Barden employees John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks). That's a lot of names but you gotta have a program, right? So, now that we have the performers straight, what of the performance(s)? Well, like the original, this movie starts with a disastrous show that sends the Bellas reeling. In a Kennedy Center command performance, Fat Amy goes commando, which becomes obvious to all in the audience ? including the Obamas ? when she has a major wardrobe malfunction while hanging above the stage in a silk swing. The university's embarrassment, and suspicions that Fat Amy exposed herself accidentally-on-purpose, lead to the Bellas being banned from all competitions, except one. As the reigning national champions, they still have to represent the U.S. at the quadrennial World A Cappella Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. And Barden agrees to reinstate the Bellas if they win. No American group has ever won that title before, but that is just the beginning of the Bellas' challenges. Pursuing her dream of a career in music, Beca has accepted an internship at a record company. This has Beca distracted from producing the arrangements for the event in Denmark and she hasn't yet worked up the courage to tell the other Bellas about what she's doing. Two other Bellas have distractions of their own as they are being romantically pursued by male a cappella singers. All of the Bellas are concerned about the daunting challenge of beating the practically flawless German team, known as "Das Sound Machine", led by the arrogant and condescending Pieter (Flula Borg) and Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), the latter of the two Beca, in particular, finds especially intimidating ? and strangely attractive. Worst of all, the Bellas seem to have lost their musical identity. They fumble their way through an underground riff-off organized by the self-proclaimed "greatest a cappella fan in the world" (David Cross) and then, performing for a group of senior citizens with a routine that one commentator says is more like a circus act than an a cappella performance. The Bellas go to Aubrey's woodland retreat in an attempt to put aside their distractions, get past their personal issues, rebuild their team and recapture their mojo and their sound, so they can give themselves a fighting chance to win in Denmark, and then move on with their lives. It's a tall order, but the Bellas didn't get to where they are by folding under pressure.
"Pitch Perfect 2" is a lot of fun, but it isn't perfect. Some of the gags are just awkward, but most are genuinely funny, even as un-PC as they are, and the large number of clever cameos throughout the movie really add to the fun. The musical numbers are enjoyable, though not spectacular, and Banks' direction is a little uneven. But, like its predecessor, this movie is humorous, on target musically and is filled with likable characters who you'll want to see succeed. As with the original, I liked this movie very much, but I can't say that I loved it. Both exemplify a diversity of spirit that is commendable, both are equally worth checking out and, while I'm comparing them, I feel that both films deserve the same grade: "B+".