'Pitch Perfect 2': What the Critics Are Saying

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and Skylar Astin are back in Elizabeth Banks' sequel about a cappella competitions — this time, with Hailee Steinfeld and the Green Bay Packers.

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and Skylar Astin are back in Pitch Perfect 2 — this time, with Hailee Steinfeld as a new Barden Bella — and even a cappella competition fans like president Barack Obama and the Green Bay Packers.

The Universal sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit, penned by returning screenwriter Kay Cannon, also marks Elizabeth Banks' directorial debut. It is expected to open in the $40 million range, but many believe it could exceed expectations, thanks to younger females.

See what top critics are saying about Pitch Perfect 2:

The Hollywood Reporter's Leslie Felperin writes, "Reprising the kind of musical performances, campus high jinks, stinging humor and sassy sisterhood on display in its eminently likeable predecessor, Pitch Perfect 2 remixes the elements and comes up with something even slicker and sharper. As the film's Fat Amy might say, "they've crushed it." Musically, "the songbook is a far hipper, more youth-skewed selection, featuring a lot more new-millennium material," and "[w]ith nimble assists from all below-the-line departments, Banks, Cannon and the cast have crafted a sequel that's edgier, sexier and, best of all, more female-centric than its predecessor. The film should also help put an end to that stupid old debate about whether women can be as funny as men."

Here, there are so many new characters and cameos that it is "beginning to approach Anchorman­-like levels of overkill," so "some endearing elements from the first movie, like the romance between Beca and her tenor boyfriend Jesse, barely get a look-in. ...  Nevertheless, the film aptly feels more like an ensemble piece than its progenitor, which anchored itself more tightly to Kendrick's outsider lead. Here, she seems much more like one of the gang, an impression cemented by the film's dominant choice of medium-distance group shots that showcase the actors' impressive comic timing." Plus, John Michael Higgins "smoothly delivered misogyny" and "casual racism throughout is even funnier this go-round" and Keegan-Michael Key is "vivid in just a few scenes."

The New York Times' A. O. Scott says, "if this is what musical comedy looks like on film today, that’s OK: the music is catchy and the jokes connect, even when they’re easy. You can tell this is a sequel by the occasionally frantic mood and a sense of scale that feels a little off sometimes. ... [Pitch Perfect's] success has allowed (or perhaps forced) this installment to be bigger, louder and wilder, with new, sometimes redundant characters, celebrity cameos — Snoop Dogg! Jake Tapper! The Green Bay Packers! — and artificially elevated dramatic stakes. Some of the underdog appeal is gone, but a victory lap can be its own kind of fun, and more is not necessarily something to complain about, especially when what there is more of is Fat Amy." Know that "plot is kind of beside the point, though. It’s there to give the characters something to do when they’re not singing or acting silly. ... The glory of Pitch Perfect is that it’s devoted, above all, to the friendship and shared ambition of young women, and that it finds plenty of room within that premise for raunchiness, ridiculousness and warmth. The casual busyness of the plots does not distract from the essence of the movie, which is the pleasure and occasional stress of hanging out with like-minded girlfriends as you ease your way toward adulthood. Dudes are nice to have around, but the pursuit of them is a whole lot less than the meaning of life."

Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey says, "Thee comedy choir wars are more intense, more absurd and more lowbrow fun than ever in Pitch Perfect 2. It is almost impossible not to be amused by the cutthroat world of competitive a cappella. Watching the international battle royale that is at the heart of the Pitch Perfect sequel, the feints and jabs and trash talking are certainly more entertaining than, say, the recent Mayweather-Pacquiao match. ... It is an impressive feature directing debut, with Banks handling the high-octane chaos of Pitch with almost perfect aplomb. She sets a fast pace that is definitely needed to keep this kind of zany piece afloat. And though there are any number of scenes that call for humiliation, and the film is certainly not shy about poking fun at stereotypes, there is something comically apologetic in the way Banks goes about it that makes the offenses easier to take. ... Pitch Perfect 2's song sheet is extensive and playful. Aakomon Jones' choreography is elaborate. And the underground a cappella slam hosted by a caftan-clad David Cross might be the most memorable in the movie."

Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips notes, "It's a two-hour lesson in how to act like a frenemy to your alleged friends. And it's not funny enough. ... I found the new movie snide and lazy instead of wittily sarcastic." Of villainous group Das Sound Machine, "I haven't seen such poor Teutonic stereotyping since the evil skier in Hot Dog… The Movie," and "Banks does well enough with spotty material and back in front of the camera as well" and "Steinfeld as the idealistic newbie is a breath of fresh air. For big fans of the first Pitch Perfect, the sequel will not aggravate or offend."

New York Post's Kyle Smith says, "Not as aca-mazing as Pitch Perfect, the follow-up should have been cut by 10 or 15 minutes. First-time director Banks doesn’t have the zippy comic timing of the first film’s helmer, Jason Moore. But never mind: There are a half-dozen hilarious scenes, the Barden Bellas’ new nemesis is awesomely weird, and you could hardly find a more endearing group of college students played by 30-year-old actresses."

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