PitchPerfect2coverGrade: B
Entire family: No
2015, 115 min., Color
Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Bonus features: B+
Included: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Amazon link

Pitch Perfect (2012) and this 2015 sequel aren’t as solid or compelling as the first few seasons of Glee, but they’re still a lot of fun for a cappella lovers. Perfectly pitched at teens, Pitch Perfect 2 barely wriggles under the PG-13 limbo bar, and you don’t have to wait long to see why:

Nothing graphic is shown, but there’s plenty of innuendo. What sets this musical-comedy plot in motion is a Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction that involves the character Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Her southern exposure is enough to disgrace the Barden Bellas, costing them a publicity tour and a ban them future competition—except, conveniently, Internationals, which a U.S. group has never won. It’s a tried-and-true formula we’ve seen in every fraternity-on-probation screenplay, combined with the standard underdog-in-competition story.

With that kind of fallback plot and a group of über a cappellists from Germany that are perhaps a little too smugly Master Race, Pitch Perfect 2 isn’t quite as good as the first film—at least not to a film critic trying to be objective. But it doesn’t miss the mark by a lot, and my teenage daughter and wife liked it every bit as much as the first movie. In other words, it’s a title that’s certainly worth adding to your family movie collection if you have junior high and high school age children. 

PitchPerfect2screenMost of the cast from Pitch Perfect returns for this sequel, led by Anna Kendrick as Beca and Wilson, whose role has gotten “bigger.” Some of the regulars seem cast as running jokes, with Ester Dean returning as Cynthia-Rose Adams, a gay black woman whose eyes and hands stray from time to time, and Hana Mae Lee as Lilly Okanakamura, whose voice is so soft that no one can understand her. Joining returnees Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Kelly Jakle, Alexis Knapp, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, and Adam DeVine is Chrissie Fit (Teen Beach Movie), while Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins turn up again as a cappella competition commentators.

The first film’s success earned the sequel a few fans and a larger budget, so also you’ll see a few fun guest star—like Snoop Dogg singing a song against character, and David Cross as host of an underground riff-off at which a bunch of NFL players show up to compete (I won’t ruin the surprise by saying who). Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) gets number three billing as a wannabe Bella legacy whose mom (none other than Sons of Anarchy “old lady” Katey Sagal) encourages her to find the same camaraderie with the girls that she had. Meanwhile, comedian Keegan-Michael Key turns up as a record producer at a company Beca interns at, and celebrity judges from a popular talent show appear in a funny end-credits segment—so don’t make the mistake of shutting off the Blu-ray too soon!

How much you like this film may well come down to how much you like Rebel Wilson, who’s in a lot of scenes, and how much you like the addition of newcomer Steinfeld, whose meek composer-wannabe act we’ve seen before in the High School Musical series. Then again, the audience for these films don’t seem to mind formulaic plots as long as the music is good, the cast is likable, the jokes offer a few giggles, and the filmmakers wring at least one heartfelt emotion out of them. In this, Pitch Perfect 2 succeeds. I wouldn’t say that there are a lot of showstopper numbers, but what’s here is energetic and accomplished enough. And this is one title you’ll want to be sure to get in Blu-ray because of the superior DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack.

By the way, if you’re a big Pitch Perfect fan you should know that Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has partnered with Dubsmash to give one lucky winner a walk-on role in Pitch Perfect 3! Fans can create their favorite Pitch Perfect moment for a chance to join the Bellas and be part of the popular musical franchise. To enter create a video using the Dubsmash app and uploading it to Vine and Instagram with #PitchSmash. Visit Pitch2Smash.com for more details.

Language: Several f-bombs and lesser obscenities, plus sexual innuendo
Sex: Quick view of bare buttocks in an opening scene
Violence: Not really–one character slams into a wall, is all
Adult situations: Party scene with alcohol and smoking
Takeaway: Not as strong as the first film, the sequel was still successful enough for the studio to announce Pitch Perfect 3 for 2017 release. And you know there’ll be a lot more than that.