Even though the whole point of a capella is complete re-invention, let’s be thankful the team behind Pitch Perfect 2 decided not to re-invent anything after the first film. The killer soundtrack, absurd comedy, and whack-a-doodle cast from 2012’s Pitch Perfect are all back, and the result is an a capella joyride that’s just as fun as the first go-round.

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow headline as the leaders of the Barden Bellas, who have gone on to win two more collegiate titles since the original film. An unfortunate wardrobe malfunction in front of the President at The Kennedy Center, though, leads to their suspension, and they will only be reinstated if they somehow accomplish the Herculean task of winning Worlds. (Hmm, I wonder…)

Crammed full of infectious musical mash-ups, including a superior reprise of the famous “riff-off” from the original, Pitch Perfect 2 is all about the tunes, and nothing is off-limits. At one point the Bellas segue from “Lady Marmalade” to Hanson to En Vogue without (literally) missing a beat. Appropriate attention is also given to 90s hip-hop, 80s classics, and even country. And it all culminates, naturally, with the powerhouse, show-stopping number that outshines even the “Price Tag/Don’t You Forget About Me” finale from the original movie.

The script by Kay Cannon (who also wrote the first) is a mash-up in and of itself– sometimes hilarious, sometimes goofy, and occasionally flat (including most of Wilson’s groan-worthy one-liners). And even though the plot is as predictable as you can get, there’s enough charm and silliness that Pitch Perfect 2 works… and works very, very well.

Along with reprising her role as the nutjob a capella commentator Gail (alongside the hilarious John Michael Higgins) Elizabeth Banks has also taken over the director’s chair for the first time in her career, and it’s a noteworthy debut. She keeps the pace brisk, and there’s no sense that the film needed any tightening in the editing booth. She clearly had a blast running the show, and it’s clear from the outset.

From its non-stop barrage of cameos (from the Green Bay Packers to Robin Roberts to Keegan-Michael Key) to its wise addition of Hailee Steinfeld as Bella newbie, Pitch Perfect 2 sings. And remember– just because the credits start rolling doesn’t mean you have to leave. Stick around for a well-worth-it bonus scene.

4/5 stars