No one saw the success of 2012’s "Pitch Perfect" coming. Instead, we heard it. So what if it was a bit of a "Glee" rip-off: Anna Kendrick, with a little help from Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and too many terrific supporting performances to mention, were music to our ears. The Barden Bellas made us laugh, so much.
The bad news, such as it is, is "Pitch Perfect 2" isn’t as good as the first. But it’s not bad, not at all.
Our story begins a few years after the first movie. Collegiate women’s a cappella singing group The Barden Bellas are three-time national champs, playing at the Kennedy Center in front of the president. Wilson’s character, Fat Amy, has an unfortunate accident while singing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and winds up exposing her nether region to the entire world, embarrassing not only the Bellas but also their school and pretty much everyone else involved. The only way the Bellas can get their good name back is to compete for the world title against the reigning world champions, a German group called Das Sound Machine.
In the meantime, Kendrick’s Beca has scored her dream internship at a recording studio with a hot-headed, cocky, Grammy-winning producer (the hilarious Keegan-Michael Key). But Beca’s keeping her Internship a secret because she’s afraid it’ll freak out Chloe (Snow).
Oscar-nominee Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit") plays a freshman and legacy Bella named Emily. She’s realizing her childhood dream by joining the Bellas, but she may have to wait a little while before she actually gets to sing with the group.
The musical numbers are terrific but not always as funny as they’re meant to be. One particular number, a singing competition curated by an eccentric millionaire played by David Cross, starts out slow but earns big laughs, highlighted by one very unexpected a cappella group.
Director and co-star Elizabeth Banks, best-known as an actress, makes some bold visual choices in taking on the challenge of helming a musical comedy as her first big feature. It’s not an easy task and she’s great with the jokes, but there’s a bit of a drop-off when she’s showing us the bigger musical numbers, detracting from the film’s overall quality. Even so, "Pitch Perfect 2" is a solid effort, and an entertaining one, too.