Pitch Perfect 2

Directed By: Elizabeth Banks

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Alexis Knapp, Hailee Steinfeld, and Chrissie Fit

The best critics should have the wisdom to acknowledge when they're wrong.  Well, it's time to acknowledge that I got it wrong with regard to the 2012 sleeper hit Pitch Perfect.  I saw the original as an earnest but not-so-funny affair.  Looking back, I have to disagree with my 2012 self and say that the film bursts with a bubbly energy and pulsates to a groovy beat.  Fueled by an original premise and filled with colorful performances from all involved, it hits all the right notes.  It should have gotten a 0.03% rating.  Alas, hindsight is 20/20.  That being said, I come into Pitch Perfect 2 with open arms some three years later.

Three years after the events of the original Pitch Perfect, three-time national a cappella champions the Barden Bellas are on their national tour performing for President Obama and the First Lady at the Kennedy Center.  Led by seniors Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow), the Bellas deliver a rousing performance that abruptly ends on a sour note.  Patricia "Fat" Amy (Rebel Wilson) is performing a stunt atop the stage at the Kennedy Center when her pants rip.  On a normal day, this would just be an embarrassing act.  Today, however, it's exponentially worse because Fat Amy is embarrassing the group in front of the First Family.  To complicate matters, Fat Amy is not sporting any underwear, so her goodies are out for all the audience members to see.

It's needless to say that this performance gone awry causes a public relations nightmare for the Bellas.  Soon, commentators and collegiate a cappella heads Gail Abernathy-McKadden (Elizabeth Banks) and John Smith (John Michael Higgins) pay a visit to Barden to let the Bellas know just how much they've disgraced the greater a cappella community.  Barring them from recruiting members, competing at the nationals, or continuing their national tour as the current reigning champions, the Bella sisterhood has been effectively disbanded.  The only remedy in the Bellas' arsenal is to compete in the world a cappella championship in Copenhagen.  As champions of the world, they would have to be reinstated.  There are two problems with this.  The world hates America, and the Bellas have to top the reigning German champions Das Sound Machine.  Meanwhile, Beca begins an internship at a recording studio.

We see the Green Bay Packers riffing off with the Pitch Perfect 2 cast.  We see Snoop Dogg belt out some new Christmas hits.  We see the German a cappella masters of Das Sound Machine proving that Germans love hip hop jams of the 90s too.  It suffices to say that first-time director Elizabeth Banks has a whole lot of fun bringing the Bellas to life in their second outing.  While it's not quite as infectious as the original and certainly is a bit messy, Banks makes sure that everyone involved with Pitch Perfect 2 has fun, and it translates on the big screen.  All in all, Pitch Perfect 2 is a delightful romp fueled by plenty of beloved tunes and just as many laugh-out-loud moments.

There's no doubt that the film has plenty of jams.  The girls are back belting out one groove after another.  From "Timber" and "Run the World (Girls)" to "MMMBop" and "Doo Wop (That Thing)", the girls still have their sound, and you, like me, will certainly tap your feet to their beat throughout the movie.  The other force with which we must reckon in Pitch Perfect 2 is the German group of world a cappella champions known as Das Sound Machine.  For a group of all white people, these guys and gals manage to bring the beat and deliver one hip hop tune after another.  It's really quite impressive how they navigate old school and new school jams alike to dominate the competition whenever they break out in song.  Between the Barden Bellas and Das Sound Machine, it may just be impossible to avoid the blissful melodic harmony this second Pitch Perfect offers time and time again.

The comedy in Pitch Perfect 2 is a bit uneven at times, but there are plenty of moments that can only be described as pure hilarity.  We have a cast of colorful characters to thank for these nuggets of comedic gold.  For her part as Beca, Anna Kendrick once again gives us the straight arrow of the group but offers some surprising humor when around the female lead of Das Sound Machine.  Reprising her role as Fat Amy, Rebel Wilson once again plays on her size to offer quite a few laughs, though there are some duds.  Other comedic standouts include Anna Camp, who is as amusingly authoritative as ever as former Bella Aubrey, and Keegan-Michael Key as Beca's insane boss at a nearby recording studio.  Finally, Hailee Steinfeld is a welcome addition to the group as well as the offbeat Emily Junk.

Pitch Perfect 2 is the kind of summer counter-programming that will hit moviegoers' sweet spot.  Offering good tunes and good laughs, the Barden Bellas make it clear that they're here to stay on the big screen.  I'm certainly happy to have them back.  Have a few mimosas with this one, and enjoy the groove.  Pitch Perfect 2 gets a strong 0.06% rating.  For the record, this one was quite close to getting a 0.03% rating.