PITCH PERFECT 2

Great-hearted and totally sweet, this sequel calls to mind my favorite franchise, the STEP UP movies, in that plot and plot mechanics take a back seat to the music. How the characters get from one sing-off to the next is sometimes contrived, other times confusing, but it doesn’t matter a bit. All of the set pieces “crush it”, but my favorite was the can-you-top-this four-way competition at a private party hosted by David Cross in which each team has to immediately riff off the beats the previous team has put in motion. It’s such a rush, you almost wish it were its own concert film. And the overall cast is the stuff of comic dreams. Rebel Wilson and Ester Dean and Skylar Astin and Ben Platt and of course Adam DeVine are back, as are John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks (who directed). And wonderful newcomers as well, including the great Keegan-Michael Key as an abrasive (but not really) music producer, Birgitte Sørenson and Flula Borg, the two lead German villains from “Das Sound Machine”, and funny cameos from Snoop Dogg and the judges on “The Voice”. PP2 is sentimental, even mushy, but if you don’t find yourself rooting for Adam & Rebel and Ben & Hailee (Steinfeld) — not to mention the Barden Bellas — well, then you’re a savage beast for whom even this movie’s charms can never soothe. — Jeff Schultz

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