In 2012, Pitch Perfect came out of nowhere to become one of the most-loved comedies in recent memory, and the good news is that this sequel matches it with both spiky humour and buoyant music. It would be impossible recreate the surprise of watching the original, but the cast and crew make up for that by kicking everything off with an outrageously rude prologue (complete with the biggest cameo imaginable), and the comedy that follows is relentlessly hilarious.
It's been three years, and the Bellas are now in their final year at university, having won three more a cappella National Championships along the way. Then they're disgraced by a wardrobe malfunction at a triumphant performance for the US President's birthday. Suspended by officials, their only chance to redeem themselves is to win the World Championships in Copenhagen. So Beca (Anna Kendrick) and her sidekicks Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) rally the troops to prepare to take on the fearsome reigning champions Das Sound Machine. And there's a new Bella on the team as well: freshman Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who is dabbling in songwriting.
Along with this central plot, Kay Cannon's script also weaves in a series of side-stories for each of the central cast members involving decisions about the future and romantic entanglements. All of these are a bit feeble, but they add layers of comedy, drama and even some meaning, although there isn't a single surprise along the way. Still, it's consistently amusing, as every line of dialogue has a witty joke in it, and the performances crackle with improvisational silliness that's genuinely infectious. Once again, the seriously gifted Kendrick is effortlessly charismatic as the natural leader of the gang, while the class-clown Wilson steals every scene with her random gags. Steinfeld offers a fresh blast of energy and talent in her role, although the perky Snow is somewhat sidelined this time.
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John Michael Higgins - A host of stars were photographed as they arrived for the Los Angeles Premiere of the comedy movie 'Pitch Perfect 2' which was held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 9th May 2015
John Michael Higgins - A host of stars were photographed as they arrived for the Los Angeles Premiere of the comedy movie 'Pitch Perfect 2' which was held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 8th May 2015
The Barden Bellas are back after their impressive victory in a national a cappella chorus competition, where they proved the strength of girl power over some of the biggest choirs in the country. Beca, Emily, Chloe, Aubrey, Cynthia-Rose, Stacie, Lilly, Jessica and Fat Amy have got bigger fish to fry these days, as they eye up global competition ahead of the daunting international contest. They may have bags of confidence, but as no American chorus has ever managed to land the coveted prize before, it may not be enough to get them through this time. Nonetheless, it's time these girls tested their odds against the greatest collective voices on the planet, even if their new rivals are showing some seemingly matchless talent.
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Despite the fact that this too-soon spin-off feels like a mere cash-in on the Disney Cars/Planes marketing machine, this sequel is actually a lot more fun than expected. Not only is the animation witty and sometimes even exhilarating, but there are some solid messages in the story. On the other hand, there's also the continuing problem of making movies in which the central characters are inanimate objects with cute faces drawn on them. But never mind: see the movies, buy the toys, keep the kids happy!
After the globe-hopping race in 2013's Planes, the new champ Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) sees his new celebrity career grounded when he develops a problem in his gearbox. He can still fly, but the torque required for racing stunts could do him in. So he decides to retrain as an aerial firefighter to help his local airfield maintain its certification in time for the annual Corn Festival. In training, he is mentored by veteran chopper Blade (Ed Harris), working alongside his starstruck fan Dipper (Julie Bowen), the noble Windlifter (Wes Studi), the sassy Dynamite (Regina King) and the genius mechanic Maru (Curtis Armstrong). But a raging wildfire is threatening the nearby Fusel Lodge, and the local park superintendent (John Michael Higgins) doesn't want to shut it down with so many stars as guests.
The best touch here is to make Dusty utterly full of himself, never listening to any advice before charging in unprepared for the next challenge. It's predictable and underdeveloped, but it makes this chirpy crop-duster far more interesting, and adds some unexpected diversions in a plot that otherwise heads exactly where it has to go. Meanwhile, the screenwriters pack the dialog with witty puns and some snappy verbal and visual gags that allow the actors to give their vehicles a bit of personality, even if some of this is merely ethnic stereotyping or simplistic hero/villain morality.
Continue reading: Planes: Fire & Rescue Review
You can call this Glee meets Mean Girls if you want to, but this riotously intelligent comedy is much better than that. With one of the funniest scripts of the year, the film keeps us laughing all the way through, never running out of witty gags even when the rather predictable plot kicks into gear. But then, we never really care where the story's going when getting there is this much fun. And honestly, we never want this movie to end.
Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a young woman who would rather mix mash-up tracks than attend a boring university. But here she is, so she decides to make a go of it by getting a job at the student radio station and joining the women's competitive a cappella group, the Bellas. But control-freak leader Aubrey (Camp) is annoyed to have the snarky Beca in her group, to say nothing of self-named Fat Amy (Wilson). Meanwhile, Beca's colleague at the radio station, Jesse (Astin), joins the champion male group the Troublemakers, led by the arrogant Bumper (DeVine). But as Beca and Jesse start to become friends, they risk running afoul of Aubrey's only rule: Bellas cannot date Troublemakers.
This rom-com plot isn't the focus of the film, nor is the impending a cappella championship, which we know from the start will be a showdown between the two groups. No, the focus is on the individual journeys of the characters, and even the smallest side characters are given space in which to grow on us. They're also brilliantly well-played by the entire cast, anchored by a solid, surprisingly layered turn from Kendrick. But the film's real scene-stealers are Banks and Higgins as competition commentators who reel off snappy jokes with such blinding speed that we can barely breathe whenever they're on screen.
Continue reading: Pitch Perfect Review
Beca is a fairly aloof music lover who arrives at Barden University as a freshman apathetically unable to fit into any sort of clique on campus. She is approached by the leaders of an a capella girls singing group, The Bellas, who ask her if she would like to join. Beca declines insisting that she doesn't sing, however she is soon discovered by one of the leaders whilst she belts out some tunes in the shower and is almost forcibly dragged onto the team. The singing group turns out to be an odd mix of weird kids, mean ones and dumb but nice girls who all create the most amazing sound when bundled together for a song session; Beca fits into the diversity pretty easily. The group set out to compete against their counterparts, a formidable male singing group, in a college contest.
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Elizabeth should never have become a teacher, her teaching technique is somewhat 'hands off'; she swears, drinks, smokes pot and is generally a terrible influence on the children. Stuck in a job she hates, she's just waiting for the day when a rich man asks her to marry him and once and for all she can put this daily nightmare behind her.
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