“If you liked the first movie, you’ll love this one!” This tagline, and the numerous variations of it, has become such a bad cliche that it should be disposed of faster than an empty F’Real cup. Let me say this: if you liked (or loved, as many people did) the first Pitch Perfect, you’ll at least enjoy this one. If you love Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), you’ll love this movie because there is A LOT of her in this one.
So, plot: the Barden Bellas have become so popular and renowned, that they start the movie performing in front of Barack and Michelle Obama. All goes well, until Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) has a wardrobe malfunction that reveals she’s gone commando and shows the President and First Lady something they didn’t need to see. The country is in an uproar and the Bellas are thrown into a scandal, which results in their suspension from an a cappella performance. However, they have a chance to regain their performing status if they beat the world champions of a cappella, a German team that’s been indomitable for years. All of this is happening while a young upstart (Hailee Steinfeld) joins the Bellas, and Beca (Anna Kendrick) starts an internship at a recording studio.
There’s not much to say about it. It’s “Pitch Perfect 2.” You kind of know what to expect: lots of music, outlandish physical comedy, drama, the works. What makes it good lies in the surprises and how well each familiar element plays out.
With the surprises, there’s the cameo of a handful of the Green Bay Packers (sorry, Chicago readers), including Clay Matthews. Keegan Michael-Key plays Beca’s boss at the recording studio, and he’s a delight as per usual. The new song “Flashlight” (with co-writing credits including Sia and Sam Smith) performed by the Bellas is good enough to make you want the Academy to nominate it, just as an excuse for the Bellas to do a number at next year’s Oscars.
As for the familiar, there’s comfort in it but it’s nice to see it done well. The German team, named Das Sound Machine, performs a cappella EDM, of all things. Amazingly, it’s done well, so give them credit for that. As usual, it’s good to hear songs that you know and love, but a special case is made for when Fat Amy sings Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” to Bumper (Adam Devine), and he starts singing, as well. The acting is reasonably good, and the commentary by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks in their booth is either funny or wincingly bad, depending on your point of view.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about “Pitch Perfect 2.” It won’t convert anyone who wasn’t a fan of the first film, which is fair enough. It’s a film for the fans, and it does its job well.