Movie Review: “Pitch Perfect 2”

Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Devine, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Flula Borg
Elizabeth Banks

Second verse, same as the first. A little bit louder and, unfortunately, a little bit worse. “Pitch Perfect 2” is so, so very sequel. It finds room for characters who have no business returning for the second installment. It plays matchmaker, and lots of it. Money is not an issue for anyone at any point, even though there are several instances where it should be (these are college kids, after all). It gives far, far too much screen time to Rebel Wilson, and it has some galling product placement (Pantene and Dave and Buster’s, we’re looking in your direction).

In spite of all this, it’s also a massive crowd pleaser, filled with some ridiculously fun and elaborate song and dance routines and enough quality jokes to help the audience suffer through the less funny material (again, Wilson, mostly). The movie’s story structure is nearly identical to the first “Pitch Perfect.” If it’s missing anything, it’s the element of surprise. No one saw the first one coming, which is why it was a left-field hit, but this time, audiences are prepared, and can therefore see every plot development coming down Broadway.

The Barden University a cappella singing group the Barden Bellas, who have now won three straight college championships thanks to the leadership of Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick), perform for the President at Lincoln Center and suffer yet another humiliating mishap on stage that leads to their suspension, and the near-certain demise of the group. There is a loophole in the terms of their punishment, though, that allows them to compete for the world championship, and if they win that, the Bellas will be reinstated. No American group has ever won the world title, though, and they face stiff competition at the hands of Das Sound Machine, a group of two dozen German men and women who look like they were manufactured in a lab, a lab with lots of steroids. Cue the “Rocky” theme.

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