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 our heroines, 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 finds the Australian Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) hanging in mid-air from a silk cloth, inverted and due to a tear unintentionally revealing a gift “from down under.” Expectedly, this gets the Bellas into trouble, and banned from college competitions. To get reinstated they have to win the world championships.
Complicating matters is Bella leader Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) internship with 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 burgeoning 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 the Latina Flo (Chrissie Fit), 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 come 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.
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.