The bad girls of a cappella are back in Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the surprise 2012 hit that grossed $65 million on a $17 million budget. Forget about collegiate national titles — by the start of the film, the Barden Bellas have won three of those in a row. This time, they’re off to the world championships in Copenhagen, where a vaunted German team reigns as the favorite.
Of course, it’s a bumpy road getting there. The opening performance number has Australian Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) hanging inverted from a silk cloth in mid-air and, due to a rip in the material, unintentionally revealing a gift “from down under.” As expected, this eye-opener gets the Bellas in trouble, and banned from college competitions. To be reinstated, they have to win the world championships.
Complicating matters is Bella leader Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) internship at a music studio; the boss (Keegan Michael-Key) thinks she has potential, so her loyalty becomes divided. Beca is still with boyfriend Jesse (Skylar Astin); Chloe (Brittany Snow) has flunked three times so she can stay in the group; Fat Amy has a blossoming relationship with Bumper (Adam DeVine); Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) is still looking for love; Stacie (Alexis Knapp) is as promiscuous as ever and, still, no one can hear anything Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) says. New to the Bellas are Flo (Chrissie Fit), a Latina who embodies a variety of Hispanic stereotypes, and Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), a legacy with a gift for writing her own songs.
The laughs are plentiful and often, particularly anytime Wilson is on screen. Her comedic timing is (forgive me) pitch-perfect, and whether it’s a look she gives, a rude gesture she makes or a joke she cracks, Wilson is endlessly amusing. The highlight comes when she solos Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” and I’m glad they didn’t go for the easy and obvious joke that they could have when she does it.
As for the songs, they range from hip-hop to country to Christmas (sung by Snoop Dogg!) to “songs about butts.” Most bring a smile to your face as you hear them reimagined, and many are parts of mash-ups of a number of songs together. The song choices are both expected and inspired; expected because they’re familiar pop tunes and that’s part of the fun for the audience, and inspired because they’re sung well and accompanied by funky choreography. As an aside, the filmmakers optioned the rights to a whopping 58(!) songs to use in Pitch Perfect 2.
There’s one thing about the film that people may find objectionable: Commentators John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks, who also directed the film) are hilariously offensive as they skewer women, homosexuals, Germans, and numerous minorities. The jokes stand out for their shock value and humor, but the content will no doubt rub some people the wrong way. To those people I say: Lighten up, it’s just a joke! Words only harm you if you let them. Laugh with it and move on.
Pitch Perfect 2 isn’t better than its predecessor, and it doesn’t have to be. All it has to do is satisfy the throngs of fans who loved the original and are eagerly coming back for more of the same. On that note, it delivers.