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'Pitch Perfect 2' Review: The Bellas Aim for World Domination

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Elizabeth Banks’ feature film directorial debut is a hit!

Perhaps the talented actress (Hunger Games) got sick of waiting for opportunities, and created some herself. She and her husband, Max Handelman, produced the surprise hit, Pitch Perfect, about a female collegiate a capella group. Three years later, the girls are back for the sequel, Pitch Perfect 2.

Now living together as seniors and coming off successful years in the group, the Barden Bellas, the girls are in a different phase in their lives. Many of them are ready to graduate, and as to be expected, they’re struggling with the transition. Beca (Anna Kendrick) has the best idea of what she wants, but feels like she has to hide her career ambition from Chloe (Brittany Snow), who has inherited the type A crown from Aubrey (Anna Camp), who ran the practices of the first movie like her military father. Continuing to steal scenes is Rebel Wilson, who’s enjoying her walkabout in the states as the Australian Fat Amy.  This year, the girls also have a new recruit, Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld (who was superb in True Grit).Photo: collider.com

Even though the Bellas have continued to ride their wave of success after three consecutive championships, they run into a big problem at the start of the movie, and the judgey duo of Gail and John (once again played by Banks and John Michael Higgins, respectively) quickly step in and derail their plans for the year. However, quick-thinking Beca proposes a scenario that gives the girls hope, and the team applies for the world championship.

One of the highlights of Pitch Perfect 2 is the hilarious championship rivalry between the German winners, Das Sound Machine, and our fair Bellas. This movie goes for the quick laugh, so they milk the stereotypes. The judges have expanded their empire to also include a podcast series. It’s a neat device, because it gives them an excuse to provide more of their inappropriate commentary and to regale the audience with their perfect talking head intonations. Perhaps director and writer, Kay Cannon, channeled some of their absurd things they’ve heard from men over their careers and put it into his misogynistic and idiotic dialogue.

Banks handles the pacing well, the musical numbers are excellent, the films covers the expected beats, but there are some fun surprises along the way. It’s great that they were able to leverage the presumed bigger budget (reportedly $29 compared to the original film’s $17 million) to also symbolize the girl’s challenges with their popularity. The film occasionally slips with too many cameos, which were a bit distracting. That probably speaks to the popularity of the story.

The Treblemakers are sidelined but are still part of the Barden Campus shenanigans. It’s refreshing to see a film targeted to teenage and college aged young women focus on themes like careers, friendship, and conflict resolution, instead of solely chasing some cute guy. Sure, the lovable dorks Jesse, Benji, and Bumper are back, but they can’t compete with the musical and comedic talents of this female ensemble.

The film is PG-13, for some relatively mild sexual humor.

 

 

 

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: collider.com