Wait… By the end of the film, the accapella group is all seniors and one freshman, that’s not gonna work going into the next year… This sequel is not quite as great as its predecessor, but it’s very entertaining and features some great accapella music. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Brittany Snow all feature in this (mostly) family-friendly comedy. The music is great, the acting is pretty good, and the screenplay is fun.
The ensemble cast is led by strong performance by Anna Kendrick who returns to her charming and charismatic character. In this film, Kendrick gives a performance that lives up to the previous film as well as giving the viewer something new to enjoy. Her singing is fantastic and her acting is great. Rebel Wilson also returns and gives a funny and dry performance that lives up to Kendrick. Wilson was never my favorite in the original film, and she’s not my favorite in this film, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s an ensemble film and she does work well into the ensemble.
Hailee Steinfeld joins the cast in this film and gives a mediocre performance that shies un comparison to some of her previous performances as well as her co-stars in this film. She has an awkwardness about her in the film that doesn’t seem to work well with the rest of the ensemble and that sparks a handful of cringe-inducing moments that drag down the film. Brittany Snow gives a great performance however, and she really seems to be the one who holds together the ensemble of the film. Just like in the previous film, Snow has great chemistry with Kendrick that really gives both the characters the push that makes a lot of the scenes entertaining.
Skylar Astin and Adam Devine returns to the film (Devine in a mildly forced way) and they both do well in bringing back the characters that we appreciated from the first film. They both have great chemistry with their individual opposite, Astin with Kendrick nd Devine with Wilson. Devine also has a handful of great moments by himself that makes his character significantly more compelling than in the original. Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle, and Shelley Regner all return as well. They do fine in their individual roles, but as the ensemble that they are they truly work together very well.
Ben Platt also returns as the awkward, but charismatic Benji, who gets significantly more screentime in this film and uses it well. He has especially great chemistry with Steinfeld. Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Flula Borg also appear as the leaders of the villainous accapella group Das Sound Machine. The two are both absolutely hilarious and work very well together onscreen. Another funny onscreen duo in the film is that of John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks who star as the accapella competition commentators. They are both funny in their individual parts, but Higgins really shines with some of his very awkward dialogue that he absolutely embraces.
This film is also stuffed (maybe even over-stuffed) with celebrity cameos in smaller roles. Katy Segal appears as Steinfeld’s mother and previous accapella singer. She is okay, but lacks chemistry with her on-screen daughter and quickly loses the audience. Anna Camp returns briefly in a cameo appearance and is quite humorous. Snoop Dogg also makes a funny cameo, as do a handful of Greenbay Packers and the judges of The Voice. Reggie Watts, John Hodgman, Jason Hones and Joe Lo Truglio have cameos as an accapella group and are all very funny. But the best two cameos are those of David Cross and Keegan-Michael Key. They both feature in smaller roles, but they still manage to make their roles interesting and stand out.
The film looks really nice, which is absolutely not something I had expected to say. The cinematography, by Jim Denault, actually manages to add a lot to this film, which is so unusual for a film of this genre to do. There are a handful of visually intriguing out-oor shots, but the strongest cinematography is that of which takes place during big music numbers, where the camera gives you a sense of everything happening onstage while still amplifying each character appropriately. The choreography, by Aakomon Jones, for some of musical numbers is also very good. Especially the numbers featuring Das Sound Machine are very well choreographed. The sound editing however is sometimes little awkward with the music and the lip-synching not matching perfectly and actually taking away from some otherwise very cool songs.
The screenplay, by Kay Cannon, in this film is fine. It knows how to best utilize its strong ensemble cast with quippy one-liners, but when dealing with its leads in more tender moments, the screenplay seems to lack the emotional awareness that could have taken this film from being ‘entertaining’ to being ‘great’. The jokes too seem to lose their traction by the 60-minute mark with the same punchlines seemingly being set on repeat. The story is also a little cheap, setting up some very forced scenarios in order to throw in a cameo. And it also has an awkward pace which could be due to its very lame deus ex machina finale. The film seems to submerse its characters deeper and deeper into trouble just to let to snap its fingers and have a handful of never-before-seen characters pull them up. But the screenplay is entertaining. It really is. And that’s the most important thing for a film like this.
The film is not as great as its predecessor, but it has its moments that carries it to the finish line. The ensemble is sweet and harmonious, and Kendrick leads the film well with a new and inspired performance. The music is fun, the film looks great, and screenplay manages to entertain the viewer even if it isn’t as strong and interesting as one would like it to be.
Best Aspect- The ensemble cast
Worst Aspect- The sound editing