The movie opens on a fantastic acapella performance by the Barden University Trebblemakers at a national competition. The crowd loves them to pieces. After they get off stage, they exchange banter with their competitors, The Barden Bellas. The Bellas's leaders are about to graduate and management will be passed to the less experienced lower classmen. The Bellas are performing an adequate but boring performance, when in the middle of her solo, Aubrey (Anna Camp) vomits violently across the audience.
Next Scene: first day of school at Barden University. Beca (Anna Kendrick) gets out of a cab and takes a moment to mix a song on her laptop. Based on her clothes and heavy nearly gothic makeup and earrings, you can tell she is into music. A boy sings to her from another cab, and she rolls her eyes at him. She gets to her room and meets her roommate, a sullen looking Korean girl. Her father comes, and we learn he is a professor at the university and that he is making Beca be there. She wants to go to California and be a DJ, but he insists on her getting an education first. To get away from her dad Beca follows her roommate to the activities fair.
At the activities fair, the Bellas are having no luck getting new members. The Trebblemakers are attracting all of the attention with their talent and good looks (they are an all-boys group.) Benji (Ben Platt) and Jesse (Skylar Astin) both want into this group, but the boys obviously dislike Benji for his nerdiness (he is a BIG star wars fan). Beca runs into the Bellas, and while Aubrey thinks she is too “alternative” co-captain Chloe (Brittany Snow) wants to give her a shot. Beca ends up finding an internship at the school’s radio station. There she runs into Jesse, the other intern. He flirts with her, but she is clearly not into anything but music. Beca’s dad tells her that if she gets involved in one school activity, he’ll let her go to California the next year.
Beca is taking a shower in the community shower room. She is singing “Titanium” and Chloe hears her and comes in. Beca, modest about both of their naked states, is coerced into auditioning for the Bellas just so Chloe will leave her alone. Many types of strange people audition for the school’s acapella groups. Beca comes in at the last moment and blows away the competition. Eventually a group of girls are selected for the Bellas. This includes self described Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), provocative Stacie (Alexis Knapp), lesbian Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean), and quiet Lilly (Hannah Mae Lee). The Bellas say their pledge: that they will never, ever have sex with a member of the Trebblemakers. Then they go to a mixer with the Trebblemakers where everyone fights and sings and flirts. Jesse tries again to flirt with Beca with little success. The next day two girls are expelled from the Bellas for sleeping with Trebblemakers.
The first practice is draining for everyone involved. It involves singing, cardio, dance, harmonies, strategies, and more. By the end, the Bellas are still quite terrible. They perform at a frat party and are booed off stage. Cynthia yells at Chloe for being off, and Chloe reveals that she has nodes (a throat condition that can ruin a singer’s voice). The girls agree to bond together and get better for Chloe’s sake as this might be her last opportunity to sing.
Later in the year is the “Riff Off,” a contest where the different acapella groups at Barden compete to mashup songs off of each other. The Trebblemakers are winning when Beca interrupts with a rap song and clearly steals the show. The Bellas lose on a technicality but are clearly the crowd favorite. The girls remark on how much fun they had outside of the Bellas's rigid performances.
Meanwhile, Jesse is getting through to Beca. He tells her about his love of film and his dreams to be a composer for movies. She hates movies, and he convinces her to watch the ending of The Breakfast Club. She is seemingly unaffected by it.
The Bellas head to regionals. The Trebblemakers hit Fat Amy with a sandwich when she stops to get gas. She subsequently forgets to get gas, and the bus runs out on a country road. They have to call the Trebblemakers to drive them to regionals. The opposing team members flirt heavily.
The teams both perform at Regionals, and the Bellas barely scrape through. Second place will bring them to semifinals, and they get it by only a couple points. Their performance is old fashioned and boring. An old acapella group is singing in the lobby when the Trebblemakers come out. The Trebbles and the old group get in a fight. Fat Amy and Beca help the Trebbles out and in doing so, Beca accidentally breaks a window. She is arrested and bailed out by Jesse, who called her dad. Beca is furious at Jesse for involving her father. When Beca gets back to her dorm, the rest of her team is waiting for her. They praise her for her courage and admonish her for helping the Trebbles out.
The Bellas head to semifinals and put the crowd to sleep with their boring performance. Beca sees the judges sleeping and tries to inject some life into their performance by singing Bulletproof in the background. The girls lose and are furious at Beca. While the girls are yelling at Beca, Jesse comes to her rescue, but Beca pushes him away. Right before the Bellas leave, Benji notices the lead singer for the winning group has a bag with a high school’s name on it (in a college competition).
Beca is alone and depressed. Jesse and the Bellas won’t talk to her anymore. Beca watches The Breakfast Club and sobs at the ending, realizing all that she has lost. She apologizes to her dad for being cold and comments on how much she enjoyed her time as a Bella. She apologized to Jesse who tells her that he doesn’t want to see her; he’s tired of being pushed away by her.
Benji reports the high school boy to acapella judges, and that group is disqualified from finals, and the Bellas are in. Aubrey tells everyone except Beca, whom she’s mad at. Chloe is in the hospital when she gets the text, and she passes it on to Beca. The Bellas show up for practice, and they want to abandon Aubrey’s old fashioned routines. Aubrey attempts to maintain control and ends up violently projectile vomiting. A repulsive scene involving the girls fighting and falling into vomit ensues. Beca walks in to see her friends covered in vomit and angry at each other. She apologizes for ruining their last performance but says the Bellas have to change if they want to win. They all begin to admit more things to each other. (Fat Amy is really Fat Patricia! Aubrey is mean cause her dad was mean to her as a child!)
Beca takes them outside to practice and she teaches them how to mashup songs. They finally start to sound good.
Meanwhile, the Trebbles's lead singer abandons his group to sing backup for John Mayer. Jesse gets an idea of who can take his place.
The Trebbles perform at nationals. Their new lead singer is Benji, the nerdy boy they made fun of. They do a great job. The Bellas get on next, in newer cooler outfits than we’ve seen them wear. They perform a new mix full of upbeat songs and the audience and judges love them. Each girl’s talents are used in their performance. They get offstage and Beca runs to Jesse, and they kiss passionately.
The next scene is the Bellas and the Trebbles at the auditions for next year's new singers. The moderator says the team that won nationals gets to choose the audition song. Beca says “Okay, we’ll take…”
And the Credits Roll.
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