Rental Review - Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), PG-13, 115 minutes - I don't remember a stretch quite like the last couple of months in the time that I have written this blog.  Sure there have been times when I haven't posted because I was too busy, but this recent lack of activity has been primarily due to there not being much in theaters that really caught my attention.  Fortunately though, the release schedule for this fall looks like it will more than make up for my recent inactivity.  In fact, I already feel a little behind as there were films released over the last two weeks that I didn't get to see due to previous plans.  Anyway, I figured a quick Rental Review would be a good way to try and get back in the swing of things.

My wife and I absolutely loved the first Pitch Perfect and have been eagerly awaiting the sequel (as evidenced by its inclusion on my Most Anticipated Films of 2015 list).  Unlike me, my wife doesn't enjoy theaters so we've been waiting for the home video release (dvd/blu-ray/digital) in order to check it out.  It was a long wait, but we weren't disappointed.

This sequel takes place three years after the first film, Beca (Anna Kendrick) and the majority of the other Barden Bellas are now seniors.  After an embarrassing and offensive performance at the Lincoln Center for the President Obama, the Bellas find themselves suspended from collegiate competition  and with the threat of being disbanded held over their heads.  The only way that they can save their group and ensure that the Bellas continue beyond their graduation is to win the world a capella championship, something that no American group has ever done.  In addition to the group turmoil, Beca is also distracted by her new internship as she pursues her dream of becoming a music producer.  Pitch Perfect 2 shows the Bellas working through their dysfunction to re-discover their love of a capella and each other in order to take on the seemingly un-beatable German group Das Sound Machine (DSM) in a Rocky vs. Ivan Drago-esque face off at the world championship.

Anna Kendrick's Beca is again the primary focus of the story as she is now the primary orchestrator of the Bellas routines, but there are plenty of other entertaining turns by new and returning characters.  Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy continues to provide more than her fair share of laughs.  Hailee Steinfeld injects new life into the group as Emily, a singing/song writing freshman who is only allowed to join the group via the 'legacy' loophole (she's the daughter of a former Bella - Katey Sagal's Katherine - and is not required to audition).  Brittany Snow (Chloe), Skylar Astin (Jesse), Adam DeVine (Bumper), Anna Camp (Aubrey), and Ben Platt (Benji), all return as do John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks as politically incorrect a capella commentators John and Gail (Banks actually directed as well).  There are also great cameos by recognizable faces such as Snoop Dogg, David Cross, Keegan-Michael Key, and many others from the entertainment world, including a quick appearance by Robin Roberts as a former Barden Bella and Clay Matthews and a couple Green Bay Packers teammates who comprise a competing group in the underground a capella-off. 

Pitch Perfect 2 does a good job of using a similar formula to the first film.  Similar enough to be fun and entertaining, but it also differentiates itself enough so that it doesn't feel like just more of the same, something that seems to be exceedingly difficult for comedy sequels these days.  It even manages to set things up for a third installment which has already been announced for release sometime in 2017, again starring Kendrick, Steinfeld, Wilson, Snow and Banks.  Beginning to end, I think I still enjoy the first film more, but this sequel was very entertaining and provided a number of laughs.  If you enjoyed the first film at all, you'll be entertained by this.  I even find myself now eagerly anticipating Pitch Perfect 3, similarly to the way I did this film.

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