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Family Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2 (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13          Length: 115 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. Similar content to its predecessor: Some kissing, some implied sexual activity and discussions and jokes about sex, some language, some jokes about homosexuality and weight, and some nudity, including a running gag about a flashing incident (during which we see a very brief glimpse of a woman’s butt). Overall, though, the film’s continuation of female-focused themes make it a good choice for mothers, daughters, and sisters.

You don’t have to sing along during ‘Pitch Perfect 2,’ but why wouldn’t you? The sequel to the unexpected hit feels less fresh than its predecessor, but it’s just as outlandishly funny and unabashedly feminist.

By Roxana Hadadi

A group of women are friends, and are united in a common goal, and at no point do they talk about men, argue about men, fight about men, or try to get with the same man. How often does a film like that get released? More often than not, sadly, films include only a couple of female characters who don’t really interact (“The Avengers: Age of Ultron”) or who are sparring over a shared love interest (“The Other Woman”). It’s upsetting that “Pitch Perfect 2” feels almost groundbreaking in its female unity, but you’ll probably be laughing so hard or singing along so loud that the film’s gender politics won’t immediately register. In all the ways that matter, “Pitch Perfect 2” is a riot.

A sequel to the unexpected 2012 hit with Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow, “Pitch Perfect 2” brings back original writer Kay Cannon but shuffles costar and producer Elizabeth Banks to the director’s chair. So “Pitch Perfect 2” is a movie for women, starring women, and created by women, and there’s infectious power in that. If there are any knocks to be made, it’s that the film’s constant and omnipresent marketing campaign has given away some of its best moments, and there aren’t as many surprises as there were the first time around. But if familiarity is its greatest problem, then “Pitch Perfect 2” has it pretty good.

The film picks up three years after its predecessor ended, with the a cappella group the Barden Bellas having won the national championships two more times since then and preparing to enter their senior year. But their popularity and renown comes crashing down when, during a performance at President Barack Obama’s televised birthday celebration at the Kennedy Center, Bella member Fat Amy (Wilson, of “Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb”) experiences a wardrobe malfunction that exposes her private parts to the president and to America, getting the group suspended from competition, touring, and recruitment.

The group’s most-committed member, Chloe (Snow) is practically beside herself, having purposefully failed courses for the past few years so she could keep performing as a Bella. If she’s not a singer, who is she? But the group’s de facto leader Beca (Kendrick, of “Into the Woods”) strikes a deal with the judging committee: If the Bellas can win the world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, that year, they’ll be fully reinstated. How hard could it be for the Bellas, who have so dominant for so long?

The only problem is that an American team has never won the worlds, and the Bellas’s main competition is the ultra-flashy, ultra-methodical German group Das Sound Machine, whose ultra-blonde and ultra-competitive leader Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) makes Beca ultra-unsure of herself. Whether the Bellas, more known for creative techniques rather than ostentatious performances, will be able to compete is a serious concern. And just as pressing for Beca are her plans for after graduation, and whether a career in music production will seriously happen for her – and which is more important, the future or the Bellas?

There are a number of different plots going on in “Pitch Perfect 2,” presented with varying degrees of humor and seriousness, so the film feels more layered than its predecessor. But that’s because the script spends significant time with nearly every female character, giving practically everyone a discernible personality and goals, and that’s something to be admired.

And, of course, there are so many laughs here. Younger viewers won’t get a joke about Supreme Court members writing the Bellas hate mail, for example, but parents will enjoy it. On the other side of the spectrum, parents might not appreciate all the jokes about hipsters, but teenagers will. Other highlights include the bizarre chemistry between Wilson and actor Adam DeVine (their relationship is mostly strange, but often cute) and the goofiness of Kendrick (her character’s inability to insult Kommissar because she’s so impressed with her results in some memorable conversations between the pair); that kind of stuff will work for everyone.

The “everyone” is key to “Pitch Perfect 2,” though, because the film so successfully operates in this world where any and all kinds of women can come together and do anything or everything they want; there are no boundaries or limitations for the Barden Bellas. That positivity is almost subversive these days, and it’s what makes “Pitch Perfect 2” a must-see.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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