The Barden Bellas are back – but this sequel doesn’t quite pitch as perfectly as the original.
But fortunately it isn’t too far behind the much-loved first effort, as a fairly witty script and toe-tapping numbers still takes this well above formulaic fare.
After a $69m opening in the States – which is more in three days than the first film took in its entire run – the Pitch Perfect franchise has obviously accumulated a massive fan base, and with its amiable cast returning, this has more than enough enjoyable factors to tick enough family-entertainment boxes.
With the collegiate a cappella crew – including Beca (Anna Kendrick), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Stacie (Alexis Knapp) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) – on a roll after snagging several national championships, their world comes crashing down when a wardrobe malfunction leaves them humiliated in front of the President, Barack Obama, himself.
They are then taken swiftly off the American Aca-circuit, but a loophole as reigning champions allows them to enter the international competition in Copenhagen – but with much stiffer opposition that makes it an almost insurmountable task.
And the main obstacle standing in their way comes in the form of 20-strong German super group Das Sound Machine – who are as menacing as they are heavily-stereotyped – led by the egotistical and super-dedicated Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) and Pieter (Flula Borg).
Along the way ‘fresher’ Emily (True Grit’s Oscar-nominated Hailee Steinfeld), daughter of famous ex-Bella Katherine Junk (Futurama’s Katey Sagal), joins the ride, and the boys from the original – Jesse (Skylar Astin), Bumper (Adam Devine) and Benji (Ben Platt) – are shoe-horned into the plot with their romantic sub-stories, that clearly play second fiddle to the tournament main course.
Sadly though – despite Kendrick flourishing and Wilson providing more hits than misses in the comedy department – it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original. It’s not quite as funny, tightly-edited, cleverly-scripted or serves the same amount of ‘spine-tingling’ musical moments. Don’t get me wrong it does have some, just not as many.
But fortunately the addition of Keegan-Michael Key, who shines as Beca’s producer boss when she starts an internship, and the return of Aca-commentators John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks from the Hunger Games, who also does a noteworthy job by directing this too), add enough stand-out snippets of hilarity to make the sequel watchable in its own right – particularly when some of the ‘immigrant’ jokes from Guatemalan Bella band member Flo (Chrissie Fit) fall embarrassingly on their backside.
So despite not quite being as poignant – or Aca-amazing – as the original, this still hits more than enough high notes to give it plenty of X-Factor.
It’s kind of like what American Pie 2 was to American Pie . . .
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Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Skylar Astin, Alexis Knapp, Ben Platt, Anna Camp, Adam Devine, Keegan-Michael Key, Shawn Carter Peterson, Katey Sagal, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle, Shelley Regner, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Flula Borg, David Cross & Snoop Dogg
Running Time: 1 Hr 55 Mins
Director: Elizabeth Banks