Directed by: Kenny Ortega
Written by: Jodiss Pierre & Bethesda Brown
Starring: Raven-Symoné, Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams, Sabrina Bryan
When you’ve dominated the continent of North America, I guess it becomes time to work your talents on an international level. Expanding from the horizons of New York has our lovely protagonists clash and tango with a brand new culture, with this case being Spain. Through its genuinely fun soundtrack and increased production value, The Cheetah Girls 2 realizes the full potential these films could achieve in style.
With Chanel’s (Adrienne Bailon) mother forcing her to travel to Barcelona to visit her boyfriend, the girls see this as an opportunity to advance their group’s brand by competing in an amateur song contest in the same city. With the opportunity to shine on an international stage, they face the issues of lacking concentration as they each find something alluring in this tourist destination.
I cannot tell you how many times I watched this film growing up. It became apparent when every scene and song number clicked in my brain when watching this for the review. The fear of having something enjoyed as a child not holding up certainly does not apply with The Cheetah Girls 2 because it still embodies a level of quality, especially when compared to the first film of the series. Comparing the two, it became obvious Disney saw the explosion of popularity and decided to give this story the financial backing to push them to their heights. On every level, this film serves as an improvement and genuinely provides memorable moments.
The issues faced in the film fall with the same three of the four girls as the first movie. You have to feel bad for Kiely Williams as Aqua, who never really gets much to do compared to the others. Galleria (Raven-Symoné) has learned to not be center stage with everything but she proves to still be the hardest worker of them all, as she attempts to bring them together to rehearse. This could potentially be a big moment for them in their careers but the others are enjoying their time overseas more. Chanel makes friends with a hometown starlet, Marisol (Belinda), Dorinda (Sabrina Ryan) falls for a local stud, and Aqua gets the chance to spend time with one of her favorite fashion designers. As far as real conflict, this film cares not to dwell in it for too long. Things certainly brew but do not receive much of the focus because everything falls in the musical and dance numbers, which truly shine.
Looking at the soundtrack of this film shows song after song that are absolute bangers. Yes, I said it, bangers. From “Strut” to “Dance with Me,” it reaches the apex of Disney Channel original movie soundtracks and years later does not come with the amount of cringe others have. It proves to be the biggest strength of this film, as these four young actors improved their dancing and overall acting to bring forth these more challenging sequences. They do so with more crispness and demonstrate the importance of experience. They have a full grasp of these characters and what makes them work. Sabrina Ryan’s Dorinda was touted as an excellent dancer in the first film, but she gets the opportunity to properly showcase it in this sequel.
Looking at this series thus far with the first two films, it has become evident Lynn Whitfield portraying Galleria’s mother, Dorothea is such an integral character and perhaps my favorite of them all. In the first film, she represented the realist in trying to ground Galleria in her pursuits of being a superstar. She learns lessons throughout these stories along with the other girls, but she embodies this protective ferocity anyone can respect. She can land a good amount of zingers and seeing her continually getting screen time along with the younger characters demonstrates her importance to the story.
The popular Spanish city of Barcelona serves as the backdrop for this story and the integration of their style of music beautifully weaves itself into the soundtrack and the mood of the film. Of course, there were going to be some handsome Spanish boys brought into the fold. The amount of local music and utilization of the language impressed me considering the production company behind the making of this movie. The views look beautiful and the culture receives proper representation, as it positively impacts the lives of these four girls.
Missing any real conflict but still as positive as one could want, The Cheetah Girls 2 continues a series of films filled to the brim with positivity about friendship. It all comes together in the epic “Amigas Cheetahs” number at the end of the feature. Overall, an improvement from the previous film as it fully embraces the spirit of these girls even if the actors certainly could no longer pass as juniors in high school. The music rocks and the dance sequences bring some heat; many years later this film still holds its same magic.