The Barden Bellas are back in the highly anticipated sequel to 2012’s surprise hit about college a cappella competitions. Judging by the popularity of Anna Kendrick’s “Cups” song from the first movie, it’s probably safe to say that lots of kids saw and enjoyed it, so they’ll most likely want to see the follow-up.
1. What’s it rated?
The movie is rated PG-13 for “innuendo and language.” The language is mild and infrequent–there’s really nothing that you wouldn’t hear on cable TV channels like AMC or FX these days.
There is a lot of innuendo, though. The movie opens with the Bellas, now three-time national champions, performing at the Lincoln Center for President Obama, when Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy has a “wardrobe malfunction” that causes her to expose her genitals to the audience. Nothing at all is shown, but there’s lots of talk about it. Throughout the rest of the movie, there’s plenty of other talk about sex and bodily functions.
2. Will the movie make sense if I missed the first one?
The basic story will make sense, but you’re going to be lost through a lot of the movie as there’s a considerable amount of reference to the events of the first movie. They also bring back almost every character from the original, so who these people are and why they’re doing what they are doing will be confusing as well. Plus, the first movie is truly great, so you really need to do yourself a favor and see it, regardless of whether or not you decide to see the sequel.
3. When’s the best time to run to the restroom?
There are a few scenes roughly half-way where you can run out and not miss anything too important. Perhaps the best one is right after the scene when Becca and Amy have a heart-to-heart about Becca’s confidence. If you miss that one, there’s another scene shortly after that when the girls are on the bus to the retreat, but you’ll want to hurry back so as to not miss the retreat scenes themselves.
4. How does it stand up to the first film?
Recreating a movie with the charm and heart of the first movie would be tough for anyone, and first-time feature director Elizabeth Banks (who also returns in her role as one of the commentators for the competitions) does what she can but ultimately doesn’t quite succeed. That said, the movie is still enjoyable, genuinely funny at times, and quite touching at others. (I even teared up a bit at one point when they sing the most famous song from the original.) The story, however, is a lot weaker. This movie tries to both hit all of the high points from the first one–including a sing-off between the groups–and potentially keep the series going by introducing Hailee Steinfeld as a new Bella who experiences a lot of the same things that Becca ran into in the first. But, in the end, a lot of the magic from the first movie just isn’t there.
Which isn’t to say at all that you or your kids won’t like this movie. It’s still full of a lot of great a cappella music, and it is a lot of fun. I think it’s safe to say that any kid who enjoyed the first movie will enjoy this one.
5. Is there any reason to not take the kids?
As I mentioned above, there’s a lot of innuendo and sex talk, so it probably isn’t appropriate for younger kids. Of course, they likely won’t get it anyway. I wouldn’t have any problem taking either my 13-year-old or my nine-year-old, even though the younger–my son–probably won’t be willing to admit if he likes it.
6. Do any “real” a cappella groups appear?
In addition to the return of the fictional Bellas and Treblemakers, the World Championship sequence towards the end of the movie features real a cappella groups, including Pentatonix (the Canadian team), the Filharmonic (the Filipino team), and Penn Masala (the South Asian team).
And in a truly odd moment, six members of the Green Bay Packers show up as an a cappella group. No, really.
7. Is there anything during or after the credits?
About two minutes into the credits, there’s a very funny scene involving one of the characters performing on a certain singing TV show. It’s actually one of the funniest parts of the movie and well worth staying for. There’s nothing else after that, though.