The Barden Bellas are back, and that’s good news. It really is. Although Pitch Perfect 2 on paper didn’t really sound like a sequel anyone desperately needed, one of the co-stars and co-producers of the 2012 surprise hit about an all-female a cappella singing group, Elizabeth Banks, has taken on directorial reins and succeeded in not only topping the original but really making it sing. Hate to state the obvious, but Banks has gotten this one pitch perfect in every way.

As I say in my video review above, Banks not only scores comic points on camera as the Deadline Review Badge Pete Hammondcolor commentator for the singing competition (with a terrific John Michael Higgins), she savvily knows how to milk everyone else’s comic moments without going over the top — and in the case of a hilarious Rebel Wilson, that’s a tall order. Everyone is perfectly cast here with returnees Ester Dean, Shelley Regner, Kelley Jakle, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Anna Kendrick and, of course, Wilson as Fat Amy all getting their moment to shine. New to the group is Chrissie Fit as Flo and a very welcome Hailee Steinfeld (Oscar nominee for True Grit). 

The plot, such as it is, has the girls trying to survive a disastrous performance at Lincoln Center that even ended up embarrassing the President of the United States. Their only chance at redemption is to try to win an international competition that no American group has ever won. To do that, the Barden Bellas have to find harmony in the tunes, as well as with one another.

But plot is secondary to the music, fun and distinct characters and a winning concept that looks like it could be coming back for a Round 3, if initial international box office is any indication. Kay Cannon was responsible for the smart script and also has a co-producer credit on the film, which was produced by Banks, Paul Brooks, Max Handelman and Jason Moore. Among notables in the large supporting cast are David Cross, Keegan-Michael Key and a very funny Snoop Dogg, who uses Kendrick’s vocal talents to help record a corny Christmas album. There are lots of cameos from such TV shows as The Voice and The View (unfortunately using departed co-host Rosie O’Donnell in a bit that already seems dated).  Universal releases the film domestically on Friday.

Do you plan to see Pitch Perfect 2?  Let us know what you think.