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WHAT'S NEW AT THE MOVIES?
Pitch Perfect 2
It may not be well, you know, perfect, but this harmonious sequel still sings.
Directed by its co-star Elizabeth Banks, this chapter in the musical story of the a Cappella Barden Bellas brings back a lot of what made the 2012 movie such a hit. The scene is still the college campus but now the singing group is almost all in their senior year. And, once again, they are facing a crisis, thanks to Fat Amy, who managed to expose her Spandex-splitting self while the group serenaded the Obamas at the Kennedy Center. Stripped of their status and facing potential dissolution, the Bellas can only survive if they win the World Competition of a Capella singers. Or something like that. It’s too silly a contrivance to worry our little minds about, especially when we know what the outcome’s going to be.
Getting there is the fun and while this one may be a shade less fun than the original, it still has its moments. Anna Kendrick’s Bella struggling in her internship at a recording studio (led by a scene stealing Keegan-Michael Key) but happy in her relationship with Jesse. Brittany Snow’s Chloe is nervous about graduating, freshman Emily (a lovely Hailee Steinfeld) is clearly being groomed both story and sequel-wise as the next generation anchor for the Bellas. All have to find their united voice in order to win the international competition, up against a standout German team, filled with people who seem far too old, slick and professional to even be on the same stage as the collegiate chorines.
Do I even need to tell you how this will all end? The continuous songbook travels from classics to hip hop, all presented in a catchy entertaining manner. And there’s a sly slant this time toward a more hip sensibility, with the even punchier commentary from Banks and John Michael Higgins, the casting of Snoop Dog and David Cross. Look carefully and you’ll even spy John Hodgman and Robin Roberts. But PP2 never forgets its wheelhouse, allowing the craziest and most rewarding scenes to the standout Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy) and the delicious Adam DeVine, both of whom take potentially embarrassing moments and knock them way out of the much safer ballpark that surrounds them.