I should admit this before I start: I was not a fan of the original Pitch Perfect . But I should have been a fan of Pitch Perfect: I love musicals, big ballads, and I used to watch every episode of Glee twice before deleting it off my DVR. Still, there were too many things that rubbed me the wrong way about the first movie, namely the too-easy jokes at the expense of other people; the songs, which always seemed overplayed and out of date by the time the movie came out; and of course the blatantly offensive jokes about nationalities, people of color, overweight women, and the LGBTQIA community. Perhaps these explain why I'm of the opinion that Pitch Perfect 2 is actually better than the original, despite popular opinion.
Call me crazy, but jokes at the expense of other people is just not my thing. Unfortunately, the sequel has just as many walkout-worthy moments (the World Championship Competition looks like a trip through "It's A Small World"), but the fact that it ultimately won me over says a lot about what is good in this movie. There were many charming moments and plot developments that contained more heart, more girl power, fewer cat fights (thank god), and enough power ballads to give this girl chills.
Here are just a few of the things that made this sequel better than the first.
1. Benji's Adorable Stumbling Over The New Girl
From the minute he lays eyes on Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld, Benji loses control of his vocabulary and can barely put a sentence together. I'm pretty jaded and bitter, but the way Benji was completely beside himself whenever he saw her was enough to warm even my cold heart.
2. Snoop Dogg Singing Christmas Carols
How can I get a version of Snoop Dogg singing Jingle Bells as my ringtone this Christmas? I don't need that mashup stuff that Beca lays down either. I just want the Dee Oh Double Gee's sweet, sweet voice to sing about Santa dashing through the snow every time my mom calls.
3. That Riff-Off
When you combine country music, '90s hip hop, and songs about butts in any way, you are creating music gold. The thing that I really loved about this Riff-Off was that it included different genres, different time periods, and, well, The Tone Hangers. I don't think I realized how much I loved these weirdos until this sequel, but they really are the best. I might be giving away my age here, but I'd be much more interested in Pitch Perfect 3 (if it happens) if it were about the Tone Hangers. Say, how, after years of toiling away at desk jobs, they found friendship and a creative outlet in each other? Come on, Kay Cannon!
4. The Amazing Hair
I think I spent half of the movie with my jaw on the floor, in utter awe of the hair styling. The other half was spent brainstorming ways to make a center part work with my face and when the best time was to shower so that my hair could better hold a curl.
5. The Friendship Between Amy & Beca
I have little tolerance for storylines about women being pitted against each other (read: none), which is why I was so delighted by the moment between Beca and Amy when Beca is struggling to keep her job and her creative struggle a secret from the other Bellas. They are still themselves — still overly physical Amy and emotionally uncomfortable Beca--but they support each other in a way that is not saccharine or overly sweet. It's genuine. It's the way women love and support each other in real life, and it was a pleasure to see it portrayed in film. FINALLY.
6. The Girl Power Song Montage
While at their retreat, the Bellas build trust in each other and search for their true creative voice while singing En Vogue, The Supremes, and Lady Marmalade, to name a few. I have no complaints about any of that.
7. The Cup Song, Part 2
If you wanted to scratch your eyes out every time the Cup Song came on the radio in 2012, you're in the luck: the girls bring the song back but to a new tune and with new harmonies that better capture what is emotionally at stake for this stage of their life. Resonant and reimagined, it's definitely worth listening to.
8. The World Championship Number
This mashup will become your anthem for 2015 — I promise you that. The hand clap routine that starts it off also made me giddy in a way I haven't seen since the first time I got Miss Mary Mack down pat.
9. The Famous Former Bellas' Cameos
Anna Camp, Kether Donogue, Katey Segal, Robin Roberts, and C. J. Perry are the few that I could pick out at the end of the movie when past Bellas show up to help the girls win the World Championship, but I'm sure there are others.
10. That. Last. Song.
I tend to anticipate the endings of musicals before they're five minutes in, especially when they are about musical competitions. More likely than not the final song will inevitably let me down and make me scowl in disbelief when they nab the title with a power ballad rendition of Milli Vanilli's "Girl You Know It's True." I don't want to give anything away here for those of you haven't seen it, but the final mashup in this movie is not only an emotion stirrer (chills! I had chills all over my body!), but also satisfyingly appropriate for the journey this group has been on. Plus, part of it is a new song by Jessie J. It's good stuff: as perfect an ending as there could have been.
And in case you still aren't down with my take on the sequel, just take Amy's advice and aca-believe it already.
Images: Universal Pictures (8) Getty Images; Giphy