Monday, May 18, 2015

Freaks and Gleeks

2012’s ‘Pitch Perfect,’ loosely based on Mickey Rapkin’s book about the quest for collegiate a capella glory, was a pleasant sleeper hit which made $65 million at the box office and more besides after its theatrical run on DVD and VOD.  Impeccably timed at the height of a certain FOX high school musical dramedy’s success and popularity (hint, see this review’s title), what made ‘Pitch Perfect’ work was its perfect blend of humor and sorority charm, thanks in no small part to Anna Kendrick, who shined bright as the adorably sweet and innocent girl-next-door Beca Mitchell.  I dare you to listen to her fresh take on the Depression-era Americana folk song “When I’m Gone” (aka "Cups") and not fall in love with her, I mean, it:

As sequels go, ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ could do a lot worse (see my review of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’ if you don’t believe me).  Directed by Elizabeth Banks, who also starred as one of the announcers of the a capella competition, PP2 starts off with an incident (a “wardrobe malfunction” or “muff-gate” involving Fat Amy as an aerialist) at the Lincoln Center attended by the Obamas which brought the Barden Bellas to national disgrace and shame.  To get their groove back, the Bellas must put their differences aside and work together to defeat the international a capella champions “Das Sound Machine,” led by that perfect specimen of Aryan superiority, uberwoman “Kommissar” (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen).  As such, like Vince Vaughn’s 2004 movie ‘Dodgeball,’ PP2 is “a true underdog story” of redemption and overcoming the odds.  And who can say “no” to that?  Not me!
If you liked the original PP or are a gleek at heart, you will no doubt find much to enjoy in this sequel.  Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy) and Hana Mae Lee (Lilly) provided much of the laughs this time around, and Hailee Steinfeld (who was a revelation in 2010’s ‘True Grit’ remake) also featured prominently as the group’s newest member Emily, who’s saddled with the rather unfortunate last name “Junk-Hardon.”  Still, PP2 makes for harmless PG-13 “almost-but-not-quite-raunchy” humor.

Grade: B+

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