“Pitch Perfect 2” Brings On the Sonic Sisterhood

imageFurious 7 delivered a winning formula earlier this spring: a diverse, likable ensemble with over-the-top automotive stunts and even a bit of nostalgia. Replace race cars with riffs, and you have the imminently pleasing aca-comedy sequel Pitch Perfect 2 (B+), sure to please the franchise faithful. Elizabeth Banks, who repeats her funny gig as a wry music contest commentator, takes the helm as director of PP2, and she orchestrates a creative bumper-crop of pranks, pratfalls, life lessons and female empowerment. Anna Kendrick gets a smart subplot working for a music producer (masterfully played by Keegan-Michael Key) while Hailee Steinfeld skillfully assumes the ingenue role. Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine bring ample comic relief from the frantic quest to restore the Bellas’ good names after a wardrobe malfunction causes global pandemonium. Several sequences are mild misfires, but mostly it’s a summer camp-fest of fun and surprises. There’s music and one-liners aplenty to keep this pop bonbon sweet and sassy. The script’s respect for the female ensemble and for music itself is admirable. It’s a rollicking ride that at times surpasses the original film’s cult success and is certainly bound for box office glory.