'Who run the world? GIRLS!" sing those irrepressible Barden University Bellas, channeling Beyoncé, in Pitch Perfect 2.
And, yes, they sure do run the world.
The highly anticipated sequel to the 2012 surprise hit Pitch Perfect is now, more than ever, a celebration of girl power, girl bonding, girl harmony, and most of all, girl laughs. As the Beyoncé song goes on to say, "Boy, don't even try to touch this."
That should be good news for the many young women who loved the infectious Pitch Perfect. And really, all the news is good about this sequel: It is, if anything, funnier than the original.
It brings back all your favorite folks, most notably the sweetly geeky and adorable Anna Kendrick and the bawdy, nothing-is-sacred Rebel Wilson, whose Fat Amy gets more screen time and makes the most of it.
There's also a new addition, Hollywood it-girl Hailee Steinfeld as an aspiring songwriter. Aside from injecting new blood into the Bellas, she's pretty much the only one who doesn't graduate from college by the end of the movie - significant for future sequels.
The other important change of note is that Pitch Perfect 2 is directed by actress Elizabeth Banks, who also produces and reprises her role as Gail, half of one of the most hilarious broadcast teams ever conceived, real or fictional.
The movie also features a cameo by Arlington's Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, which appears briefly during a climactic competition scene.
We begin with our Bellas giving a command performance at Lincoln Center for President Barack Obama's birthday, no less. All goes well until Fat Amy's spandex pants rip. She's suspended in the air, and she's not wearing anything underneath.
The disgraced Bellas are suspended from competition. But the ever- practical Beca (Kendrick) finds a loophole: If they can win the world championships, will they be reinstated? Sure, they're told, like that would ever happen.
Their biggest competition: Das Sound Machine. These European champions are terrifying in their perfection, their production values and their general awesomeness - and their disdain for the Bellas.
The script by Kay Cannon and Mickey Rapkin keeps the rapid-fire jokes coming. A throwaway reference to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is hysterical. Much less funny is a no-means-yes sex joke; we could have done without that one, particularly in a college setting.
It all comes down to a huge final confrontation before thousands of fans. It's panache and polish (Das Sound Machine) vs. spunk and spirit (the Bellas). And, of course, these girls have a few surprises up their sleeves.
By Jocelyn Noveck/The Associated Press
PITCH PERFECT 2 (B)
Directed by Elizabeth Banks. PG-13 (innuendo and language). 115 mins.