Pitch Perfect 2 May 13, 2015 PITCH PERFECT 2 (USA/12A/115mins) Directed by Elizabeth Banks. Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Flula Borg, Alexis Knapp, Anna Camp, Ben Platt. THE PLOT: After a wardrobe malfunction for Fat Amy (Wilson) during a performance for President Obama reveals a little too much down under of the self-elected leader of The Barden Bellas, the ensuing Muffgate scandal propels the all-girl a capella group being suspended by the governing body’s leading lights, Gail (Banks) and John (Michael Higgins). Worse, their position on the world stage is going to be taken by the European champions, Das Sound Machine, a highly efficient and sharply choreographed outfit that may very well have been created by Kraftwerk in a lab. And so, it’s off to world championships in Copenhagen, to do battle with what Amy likes to call “a bunch of Deutschbags”. THE VERDICT: The first outing having proved a surprise if not exactly blockbusting hit, it’s a welcome surprise to find that the second Pitch Perfect offering is even better than the 2012 original. That this also marks the directorial debut of the always-watchable Elizabeth Banks is also a welcome surprise – this woman knows funny, and now she can teach other people how to be funny too. Indeed, there’s much to like-verging-on-love about PITCH PERFECT 2 – the Christopher Guest-esque shenanigans boasting a cast who are all present and very correct in their roles, a plot that gives them a lot of room to be funny, and gags that come smart and fast. In fact, everything here is in pretty much perfect harmony. Hurrah! RATING: 4/5 Review by Paul Byrne Pitch Perfect 2Review by Paul Byrne2015-05-134.0Perfect Harmony! emerb Three years after the first Pitch Perfect movie, the A capella ladies are back with a bang but this time they get their act together on the global stage. Elizabeth Banks makes her directorial debut with the cheerful, relaxed and undemanding “Pitch Perfect 2”. Choreographer Aakomon Jones provides all the show-stopper dance excitement of the first movie and Kay Cannon writes the script. Uplifting musical sequences, bawdy misadventures, campus high jinks, sharp humour, riotous gags and quick fire wit combine to make this highly anticipated sequel eminently likeable and the results certainly left me wanting more. The film opens as our heroines, all-girl group “The Barden Bellas”, are branded a national disgrace after a vagina-flashing episode before Barack Obama and the movie maintains that level of cheerful pertinence throughout. The girls are performing a routine involving Pitbull’s “Timber” to the President in front of a huge crowd where Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is lowered from the ceiling in a cat suit which splits, revealing her lady parts on national tv. This scene sets a tone and we know that the movie is going to be pure escapism and nothing more. Quickly dubbed “muffgate”, the ensuing media furore is hilarious and the celebrity cameo-studded news montage is sharply handled by Banks. The Bella’s are stripped of their showcase performing duties and are banned from taking on new members. The only way they can redeem their reputation is to win the international championships in Copenhagen. This has never been achieved by an American team before and standing in their way is the robotically perfect, black-leather clad German supergroup “Das Sound Machine”. There is also a subplot involving Becca (Anna Kendrick) whose attention is subverted as she is interning at a record label run by the domineering and fearsome Keegan Michael Key. They are working on a Christmas album with Snoop Dogg and for me this side story generated some of the best comedy scenes. However, all the girls are in senior year now and ready to face the fact that it’s time to grow up and even move on. They become downhearted when they arrive in Copenhagen and when they see what they are up against, their confidence is even further eroded. The Bellas are tested and intimidated and begin to forget what makes them special, resulting in some misguided stage experiments to light up hula hoops and pyrotechnics that literally threaten to burn them up. The largely expanded and sparky female ensemble is the film’s real charm and once again Rebel Wilson steals every scene she appears in. Undoubtedly the first film’s brash breakout star, I felt this film made a big effort to give her a beefed-up personality beyond just the running joke. She even gets a love story with former squeeze Bumper (Adam De Vine) which is genuinely sweet and charming. Banks also provides many laughs with her role in the commentary box alongside the extremely non-PC John Michael Higgins whose bigoted asides provide for many laughs. Universal clearly wants to leave the door open for a sequel so we are introduced to gawky but fresh-faced Hailee Steinfield as a ‘Legacy’ Bella – her over-eager mother (Katy Sagal) was a legendary, five-octave-ranged member of the troupe back in the 1980’s. Steinfield shyly attempts to steer the group from karaoke covers to original material, she is cleverly being groomed as the future anchor lead. Sadly, I felt that some of the minority Bellas are underused – soft-spoken Korean eccentric Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and new Latin American exchange student Flo (Chrissie Fit). Primarily geared towards female audiences, there is no denying that Pitch Perfect 2 is ebulliently entertaining and full of heart. The upbeat music, slick choreography and funny/rude set pieces are sure to keep you enthusiastically engaged. Musically infectious, the film is peppered with a hipper, youth-skewed selection, especially in the delightful sing-off which showcases a medley of ditties about butts! I think it’s fair to say that Banks, Cannon and the entire cast successfully crafted a sequel that’s edgier, sexier and more female-centred that its predecessor. It’s highly likely that this eminently credible feature will smash it at the box office – there certainly is a large fan base out there – me included! Randy The 2nd outing is as funny as the 1st one with some unexpected highlights but where will it go next as everyone is graduating!