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Directed by: Elizabeth Banks

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Hailee Steinfeld, Chrissie Fit, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Ben Platt, Anna Camp, Keegan-Michael Key, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, David Cross

A few years ago, the movie ‘Pitch Perfect’ brought acapella group singing back into popularity. Having talented people such as Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson as the leaders of the group made it even better. So the best thing that Hollywood thinks it can do is bang that same gong with a bigger mallet.

So again the Barden University female acapella group (called the Bellas) are National champs for the last three years. They are invited to perform at Lincoln Center in front of the First Family. The group includes Beca (Anna Kendrick), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Cynthia (Ester Dean), the quiet little Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), with a few others. The biggest (literally) star is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Fat Amy does a ‘Cirque du Soleil’ routine that splits her pants and shows her ‘thunder down under’.

The Bellas are shamed and hated, and they are forced to give up competing in the Nationals for this, Becca’s senior year. They find a loophole that allows then to perform in a World Acapella contest. No American team has ever won. And the competition is fierce, seeing the German group called ‘Das Sound Machine’ makes them uneasy.

Also at Barden are the Treblemakers, the male acapella singing group. Former lead Bumper (Adam DeVine) left to go big time with John Meyer, but is now back as a security guard. The other major singers are Jesse (Skylar Astin) (who is Beca’s boyfriend) and Benji (Ben Platt).

The acapella contests are covered for a podcast by John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks). They follow the downfall of the Bellas, and they cover them on the comeback trail. They banter and make all sorts of snide remarks.

The Bella find that they have a new member named Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), whose mother once led the Bellas many years ago. Beca is also now a senior and gets an intern job at recording studio and attempts to make an impression on her boss (Keegan-Michael Key). The Bellas meet a mysterious man (David Cross) who sponsors a ‘riff-off’ at his house.

The Bellas cannot seem to pull it together, so they go to a team-building camp for inspiration. It also happens to run by Aubrey (Anna Camp), who is a former Bella leader. She graduated, and now runs a tightly disciplined operation. The Bellas find their true purpose again before the International competition. Beca gets noticed and rewarded at work, and Fat Amy gets a little romance.

Everyone is great and they seem very comfortable in the roles. Anna Kendrick is as lovely as she always is, and her singing is spot on. Rebel Wilson plays the ‘go-my-own-way-crazy-chick’ like the part was made for her. Hailee Steinfeld is a positive addition to the group, and Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins do the play-by-play and commentary of the groups in a usual funny manner.

Elizabeth Banks is also the (first time) director. She does a functional job, but uses a lot of the director tricks without any particular reason or purpose. Multiple screen frames, odd angle shots, slow-mo that that goes to super-speed, that sort of thing. In some parts, it does not advance the story much, and it becomes more of a distraction.

This movie is fun and has many good scenes and performances. But then, so did the first movie. This has q number of places where is drags on a little too long, but the first movie was quick paced. The writing is pretty good, but the story tends to wander around a lot.

With the bar set pretty high with the first ‘Pitch Perfect’, this new ‘Pitch Perfect 2’, is not quite up to that standard. But it is aca-ceptable…

Length 115 minutes

Rated PG-13

7 out of 10 stars


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