Spoiler Alert: Pitch Perfect 2 hits almost all the right notes

Spoiler Alert: Pitch Perfect 2 hits almost all the right notes

The sequel to the unexpected cult favourite is about to hit the big screen, but will it live up to the first film?

Nobody expected Pitch Perfect, the 2012 movie inspired by a non-fiction book charting American university a cappella groups, to do particularly well. But it quickly became something of a cult classic, with eminently quotable lines, wildly irreverent humour, and brilliant arrangements of a surprising range of pop hits. And more importantly, it served as a reminder to anyone who’s ever been bullied or teased, or felt different or “less” because they weren’t “cool”, that they were important, that Being Popular is overrated, and that everyone’s opinions mattered.

Set three years after the Barden Bellas win the national a cappella championships, Beca (Anna Kendrick) and the girls are now three-time national champions, living in a sorority house, and invited to perform for the president of the United States in honour of his birthday. Yes, Barack (and more importantly Michelle) Obama. Yes, they appear. Yes, the real POTUS and FLOTUS. (And yes, I’m sure it’s filmic trickery, but it made me chuckle, so shush.) But when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) suffers a wardrobe malfunction, the group is banned from performing in a planned national tour, or competing in the next national competition to defend their title. Unless, that is, they win the World Championships, a contest no American group has ever won.

There’s a lot right with this movie. There are two brilliant performances within the first 10 minutes: a medley by the Bellas which includes Ke$ha’s Timber, Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, and Beyonce’s Run the World, then an energetic version of Mika’s Lollipop by former foes, the Treblemakers.


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Other favourite characters are back, with key roles: the hilariously obnoxious Bumper (Adam DeVine), who has got a job doing campus security; the adorable magic-loving Benji (Ben Platt); and Chloe (Brittany Snow), who has deliberately “failed Russian literature for three years” so she can stay in the Bellas.

There’s a lot of great music. Cups makes a reappearance, Fat Amy gets a solo, there’s another Jessie J song, and there’s a great medley of different groups from around the world singing the same song in very different styles – Bollywood, African tribal, K-pop – that really needs to appear on the soundtrack. Oh, and there’s a riff-off. Panic not.

On the downside, if you’ve seen the trailers and clips, you’ve seen half of the highlights. And there’s a lot more to aggravate than in the first film. Beca is meant to be three years older, but she hasn’t learned to open up to her supposedly closest friends; she’s still as proud as in the first film, but now her pride comes across as selfish egotism. Apart from her, Fat Amy, Chloe and Emily, the Bellas don’t have many lines, and very little character development. With the exception of Benji, who gets something of a pivotal role (but does less magic), the Treblemakers hardly appear.

There are scenes that lend very little to the overall plot or vibe, such as the pool party, or the mud and pillow fights. And while Das Sound Machine are imposing adversaries, their numbers are less memorable than anything the Trebles sang last time round – one of the most glorious things about PP1 was the finale sing-off, as both groups’ choices are uplifting, beat-tastic, dance-floor-filling extravaganzas that have been watched on YouTube tens of millions of times.

But these are small quibbles. The message of being true to yourself is here again in spadeloads, and with the torch (you’ll see what I did there) being passed on to younger members of the club, it’s likely there will be yet another outing for the Bellas. And yes, I’ll be counting down to that one.

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