Overview: After a wardrobe malfunction causes the Barden Bellas to lose their status at the university, the girls must sing their way to a world championship to regain their reputation and rediscover their identity. 2015, distributed by Universal Pictures, rated PG-13, 115 minutes.
The Pitch Is Back: Crafting a sequel is delicate business in any event, but a comedic sequel is an even more difficult feat. Most of the time comedies tell an isolated story, and when cash flow inspires a sequel, recycled jokes and a forced plot create an over the top knock off of what made the original so funny in the first place (think Hangover 2, Anchorman 2, Horrible Bosses 2, etc). Pitch Perfect 2 takes a page out of the playbook of last year’s 22 Jump Street by owning its sequel identity, winking at its fans, and going aca-all out with its self deprecating humor. This film knows exactly what it did right the first time around, and it builds upon that, giving the massive existing fanbase more of what they loved about the original, creating a celebration that shines as brightly if not brighter than its predecessor.
Crushed It: Elizabeth Banks, who both produced and starred in Pitch Perfect, returns this time around and lends her talents to the director’s chair. She hones in the focus of the film, giving us more laughs, more music, and more girl power than there was in round one. The entire audience of my showing was in hysterics from opening to closing credits, so a repeat viewing will be required just to catch some of the jokes I couldn’t hear over the laughter, much of it my own. No topic is excluded from mockery in this film, and the punchlines are delivered with such sass and self awareness that even the touchiest of subjects are tossed around without so much as a flinch between cameos of Clay Matthews’ biceps and Snoop Dogg’s crooning.
The a cappella performances are back and more fun than ever, featuring covers of everyone from Tina Turner to Taylor Swift. The performance productions are also more over the top, using light shows and a wardrobe malfunction involving “Wrecking Ball” and an underwear-less Fat Amy. It’s bigger, ballsier, and campier than the original, but this all works because everyone in the film completely owns the quirkiness, and they’re all having as much fun as we are.
Aca-Awesome: With the female led cast and the message of female friendship at the forefront, the original film was already known for its feminism celebration, and Banks really brings this aspect of the sequel home in a big way. Romance is used as a supplement rather than a driving force, leaving the meat of the story open to the fabulous, diverse women that own the screen, allowing the film to further expand on its emphasis on the concept of the important of woman supporting other women and the journey of self discovery. Pitch Perfect 2 is a witty, fun celebration of women who empower both themselves and other women. What could possibly be more aca-awesome than that?