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Pitch Perfect 2 (2 stars)

Elizabeth Banks takes the helm of a sequel that hits too few high notes

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Pitch Perfect 2

It’s been three years since we first met the Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect. Here the all-girl a cappella group return with a flashier show, more cameos than you can shake your booty at, and a Europe-set grand finale. Elizabeth Banks, who also plays bitchy commentator Gail, is in the director's chair this time round, while the original's screenwriter Kay Cannon returns.

Proceedings open with a bang as we watch the Bellas performing for President Obama at NY's Lincoln Center. A wardrobe malfunction involving Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and a wrecking ball shocks the White House contingent and gets the Bellas thrown out of an important competition. In a bid to get their groove back they enter a song contest not dissimilar to Eurovision, which the US has never won before. They come up against Das Sound Machine, a German group who have a lot in common with Kraftwerk. Meanwhile, new recruit Emily (Hailee Steinfeld, once again proving how versatile she is) aspires to sing her own material and is helped by Beca (Anna Kendrick) who, facing imminent graduation, takes an internship at a record label.

The chance to properly satirise America's international relations is oddly missed, with the focus placed on the often ridiculous practices of the music industry instead. Highlights include a cameo appearance from David Cross as a tiara-wearing millionaire, and a 90s RnB sing-off. Plus Hana Mae Lee is even more brilliantly weird as the softly spoken Lilly.

The enjoyably knowing flavour of the original is still present but feels strangely diluted in this sequel. Gail and her co-host John’s commentary is still edgy and hilarious, but Wilson’s shtick has started to grate, the songs aren’t quite as catchy and, with a large cast competing for your attention, Pitch Perfect 2 feels overstuffed.

General release from Fri 15 May.

Pitch Perfect 2

  • 2 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 114 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
  • Cast: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Adam DeVine, Kelley Jakle, Chrissie Fit, Hailee Steinfeld, Katey Sagal, Elizabeth Banks
  • UK release: 15 May 2015

After a catastrophic wardrobe malfunction at the White House, the Barden Bellas attempt to get their groove back in a Eurovision-like song contest. Despite highlights such as Lee's brilliantly weird performance as Lilly, the knowing charm of the original is diluted and Wilson's schtick, in particular, is starting to grate.

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