For those of us who braved the rain and waited hours in a line outside of the HUB to receive tickets, “Pitch Perfect 2” was a much-needed relief from the gut-wrenching debacle of continued midterms, essays and upcoming finals week stress. Given its predecessor’s success at the box office, this highly anticipated sequel has much to live up to, especially for new director Elizabeth Banks. “Pitch Perfect 2” had everything you’d expect this musical comedy about collegiate a cappella to have, and then some. For someone who has been waiting two years for this sequel, you could say I was a ca-excited.
The film begins and sets its tone as three-time national a cappella champions the Barden Bellas, on a victory tour, open for none other than the commander-in-chief himself, President Barack Obama and his first lady making surprising cameos as themselves sitting in a box theater. The Bellas’ newfound reign is prominently showcased as they emerge in bedazzled costumes with grand choreography, and of course a mashup of pop anthems. Chaos is not far behind as Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) enters, a la Miley Cyrus, in a full leotard, dangling from an aerial silk and belting “Wrecking Ball,” tears her suit and exposes herself to the crowd.
This makes headlines and places the female a cappella group in a tough situation. They are removed from their tour and can only redeem themselves by winning the international championship. This proves to be a difficult task as the Bellas face the most intimidating of competitors in the German Das Sound Machine, whose tall members possess blonde godly physiques and thick accents. Literally making their first on-screen appearance in a car show, these guys mean business, intimidating with their loud vocal percussion and emulating an actual dubstep-infused robot singing machine.
The Bellas are forced to face the music and must work together to “find their sound” again through a montage of ‘90s songs and team bonding before the German Machine takes the gold. Of course they find it united by — you guessed it — a campfire, s’mores and what I personally thought was the best part of the film, the stripped down and harmonized version of the nostalgic and infamous “Cups” song. You probably recognize it from every time it played on the radio.
Unfortunately, stereotypes and crude humor reigned supreme. From the addition of a Hispanic immigrant who recalls her brother trying to sell her for a chicken, to the unnecessary sexist remarks, this was overplayed throughout the film and could have done well without it. The Treblemakers were made secondary and unimportant characters who were only used as filler. A lot was going on amid the plot and it felt like all of these storylines were being crammed into one giant comedy show.
“Pitch Perfect 2,” although not as amazing as its predecessor (but when is a sequel ever?), was hilariously filled with cameos galore in the most assorted of situations. From the Green Bay Packers competing as their own a cappella group in a riff-off, to Snoop Dogg creating a Christmas album and accidentally dueting with Becca (Anna Kendrick), each was unexpectedly wonderful. Adding to that is the popular a cappella quintet Pentatonix who perform as competitors at the International championships, something I can only describe as mini-Coachella.
The returning members of the cast were as phenomenal as ever. Kendrick’s Becca tackles stress and is given a new challenge at an internship for a production company, and I think I can speak for my fellow viewers when I say, “We feel you girl.” Wilson dominated the screen like the outrageously hilarious hurricane she is. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld plays Emily, who wants more than anything to join the reigns and live up to her mother’s reputation and does so by writing an incredible and original song that plays a significant role in the film’s ending.
Despite its minor flaws, “Pitch Perfect 2,” much like the original, is a grand spectacle of choreography, mash-ups, comedic genius and fun. Sequels hardly ever compare to the original, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Barden Bellas. But for what it’s worth, this film lived up to my expectations of a good time. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs that finals laugh break. A final word of advice — you do not want to miss the ending credits scene.
Rating: 4 stars