Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.
You know the famous Gershwin song, from the musical Porgy and Bess, and since done so well by so many.
And you know the feeling of which George and Ira composed. Warm wind’s a waftin’, the gentle scent of blooms are in the air …
Life is good.
Not for the women of the Barden Bellas. No, they’re facing a school year with no a cappella singing, these three-time national champions stripped of their tour de accomplishment and dignity by the association after Fat Amy’s acrobatic wardrobe malfunction graces President Obama with more than he’d like to take in.
And yes, with Pitch Perfect 2, we have a wild and wooly pre-Memorial Day Weekend kickoff to summer movie season 2015. Forgive that easy swing at the presidential eyeful faux pax. Writers Kay Cannon and Mickey Rapkin and director Elizabeth Banks certainly would have taken it.
The sequel starring Anna Kendrick as straight-laced Beca and Rebel Wilson as out-of-the-box thinking Amy is full of those sly winks, funny pokes at uncomfortable moments and wide acknowledgement of its characters’ flaws and foibles.
It’s also balanced with warm friendships, fierce protection of important values and the smarts to know that diversity is ultimately king and queen.
The sequel had a big act to follow, what with 2012’s Pitch Perfect having gone on to earn $112 million worldwide to become the second-biggest-grossing movie about music, trailing only School of Rock.
The brain trust — this time directed by Banks — wisely decided to stay close but wander far. Banks reprises her role as smarmy judge/commentator paired with the purposefully and happily ridiculously silly John Michael Higgins. Also back are the Bellas, most importantly Chloe, a seventh year returning senior played by Brittany Snow. Added to the mix is legacy freshman Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld. She adds some nice wide-eyed to the mix, and her wonderfully named former Bella star mother — how’s Katherine Junk for you — brings the older generation into the mix.
The guys add to the game, too, most importantly Adam Devine as Bumper, the former Treblemaker now security guard brave enough to ramp up his woo on Fat Amy, Skylar Astin as Jesse, Beca’s smart Treblemaker who urges her to become an intern at a nearby record label, and Ben Platt as Benji, a magician Treblemaker who can’t take his eyes off Emily.
The plot takes the crew to Copenhagen, where they must win the world a cappella championship, most notably imposing German defending titleist, to be reinstated back home. Of course, as the smarmy commentators/judges have informed them again and again, the world hates Americans.
The rest if summertime movie fun, 115 minutes worth that goes by like a single LP instead of a double-CD until you find yourself at an ending that’s predictable in one way, yes, but delightfully surprising in another. In the darkened Regal Cinemas in Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA, I could sense the good-sized Saturday matinée crowd’s pleasure.