The Barden Bellas are back – and disgraced – and only a series of set piece mash-ups can come to their aid
If a triple decker knickerbocker glory adorned with fizzing sparklers could hold an E sharp and had a good line in sass then it would fit right in with the Pitch Perfect crew.
For, gosh, this sequel eager is to please, falling over itself to impress, trying so hard to be a curtain raiser and a show stopper, all at once.
And the thing is – it works. The first outing of this a capella sisterhood was a surprise sleeper hit of 2012, the soundtrack topping the charts a year later. So it was inevitable that the not-so-Mean-Girls-meets-Glee formula would be sent out on another mission to wipe cynicism from the face of the earth.
The Barden Bellas are back, three years later, and at the top of the tree – Anna Kendrick as dreamer Beca, Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy, driven Brittany Snow and the rest of the singers and oddballs (Lilly: “All my teeth come from different people.”)
But the misfits work better as underdogs so the Plot God is inevitably going to deal them a setback.
It comes in the form of, well, “#muffgate” which horrifies President Obama and puts Fat Amy upside down and inside out.
“An overweight girl dangling from the ceiling – who hasn’t had that dream?” says commentator John (John Michael Higgins) who, alongside Gail (Elizabeth Banks, also the film’s director), provides the best of the waspish laughs.
Shunned, banned and humiliated, the girls seek the road to redemption – the world championships in Copenhagen. But there are many obstacles along the way, mostly involving German hardcore overachievers Das Sound Machine (Brigitte Hort Sorensen and Flula Borg both notably Teutonic).
Meanwhile the Bellas are joined by True Grit’s sparkly Hailee Steinfeld as the newbie with the highest of hopes at the Bellas’ lowest of moments.
Of course none of this matters. The film is a series of splendid, spine-tingling, toe-tapping, hell-for-velvet mash-ups where the girls get to warble their larynxes and shake their tail feathers, undercutting the toothy all-American vibe with a string of un-PC one-liners.
The film is never better than in face-offs (Ron Burgundy style) with rival groups – the slick Treble Makers, DSM, the nerdish Tone Hangers (with Modern Family’s Adam DeVine) and, er, the Green Bay Packers (yes, really).
This is an unalloyed gal pals’ film, one for hairbrush-as-microphone pyjama parties – but the wizened and ancient will find their arthritic toes a-tapping and their hearts beating double time, unable to fend off this all-out assault of wholesome wonderfulness.
Pitch Perfect 2 | (12A) 115mins | ★★★★✩