In 2012 the world was musically wooed by the charming tones of Pitch Perfect. A surprise hit that raked in $115 million worldwide, the acapella-themed flick found its footing in a Glee-infested world. Bigger, bolder, but still able to retain its loveable sassiness; Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Skylar Astin have all returned as fellow co-star Elizabeth Banks, making her directorial debut, takes the helm from Jason Moore for the highly anticipated sequel.
With three consecutive national titles under their belt, Beca’s (Kendrick) Barden Bellas are the undisputed top dogs of American acapella. The gang of talented misfits’ leading status all too quickly comes crashing down in cringe-inducing style when Fat Amy (Wilson) shows a bit too much skin in front of the on-watching President. ‘Muffgate’ causes national disgrace, resulting in the Bellas being banned from domestic competition. With the groups future on the line, the only way to restore their place is to compete (and win) in the world acapella championships – a tournament which has never been won by an American group before. With stiff competition from the machine-like German team, Das Sound Machine, the girls – with the help of newbie freshman Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) – must rediscover the sound that made them so successful in the first place so they can challenge on the global stage.
Super busy and gleefully frantic, Pitch Perfect 2 still manages to capture the piss-take humour and quirky charm of its predecessor whilst successfully (for the most part) manoeuvring through the numerous plot strands Banks has to contend with. With world championships, relationship issues and career dilemmas on the menu, it’s easy to get a little sidetracked as it lacks the care-free flow of the 2012 hit, yet it certainly doesn’t sidestep away from being incredibly madcap. More screen time for Wilson’s Fat Amy is especially welcomed as her random one-liners (“Germany hasn’t produced a good singer since Hasselhoff”; “I’m a free range pony that can’t be tamed”), and a fabulous canoe scene where she serenades love interest Bumper (Adam DeVine), bring the laughs. Banks herself – along with John Michael Higgins – return as John and Gail, the controversial co-commentary team, to delightfully un-PC effect.
The music side of things feels fun and fresh, if not somewhat less memorable, as an oddly camp David Cross is this film’s ‘riff-off’ host, leading a musical five-way, including a random cameo from a selection of the Green Bay Packers. Its climax – if not a little cheese-tastic – is this sequels paper cup moment, as Kendrick, Wilson and company ramp up the spectacle.
With a third instalment already rumoured, and Steinfeld’s introduction opening the door for a new age of the Barden Bellas, it appears Universal haven’t finished with the acapella world just yet. Like Glee on heat, this women-centred hit is fuelled by plenty of attitude and wit, topped off with some great toe-tapping hits. Aca-awesome.