Wednesday, October 10, 2012


It's too easy to call Jason Moore's "Pitch Perfect" a hyper-blend of "Mean Girls," "Bring It On" and "Glee" -- although it very much is a hyper-blend of those three and then some. But, like I said, that's too easy. What this surprise smash hit out of left field really is is a high-energy, impossible-to-hate tale of collegiate a cappella that is heartfelt, hilarious and just weird enough to have a strange fascination with projectile vomiting. Witness the movie's pre-credits opening scene, and tell me I'm wrong.

The always reliable Anna Kendrick plays Beca, an attractive yet introverted girl entering her first year of college at Barden University. She's less than enthused about going to school and would rather jump ship to Los Angeles to begin her career as a DJ. Her father (John Benjamin Hickey), however, is a professor at the university and isn't about to fund that before she gives school a try. This also means she has to find a way to get involved. Lucky for Beca, the campus' all-girls singing group, the Bellas, is looking to regroup after a disastrous loss last year at the finals. Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Aubrey (Anna Camp), the figureheads of the Bellas, are tired of staying in the shadow of the rivalry all-male singing group led by the insidiously brash Bumper (Adam DeVine). And as a perfect cameo by Christopher Mintz-Plasse reminds us, this is not high school glee -- hint, hint.

The movie owes its peppy attitude to a wealth of young talent across the screen and its writer, Kay Cannon whose credits include 22 episodes of "30 Rock" and some "New Girl," and you can see that irreverent humor peeking through in every line. Take, for example, the punchy one-liners from the competition commentators (John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks). Headlining the young cast is Rebel Wilson, the vivid Aussie who made a claim for herself as the weirdo in "Bridesmaids" and has taken off since then. She plays the self-proclaimed Fat Amy who gives herself that name so skinny girls don't have to behind her back. If anything, "Pitch Perfect" provides Wilson the role that'll make her a star. The casting across the board is admirable with a playful chemistry between the rivaling a cappella groups. This comes to a head during a "West Side Story" style showdown where song improvisations are thrown back and forth in battle.

"Pitch Perfect" is fueled by the engine of its music, which is constant and flat-out great. In between bouts of musical numbers, catchy mash-ups and exciting hooks, a lot of the movie does model itself off teen comedy tropes and harkens back to the movies of John Hughes as did "Easy A." The movie plays into the whole a cappella craze that already excists and does so without ever taking itself too seriously painting the extra-curricular activity as equal parts nerdy, sexy and silly. And it wouldn't be complete without a love interest for Beca. He arrives in the form of Skylar Astin (best known for his stage role in "Spring Awakening" and most recently appeared in an episode of HBO's "Girls"), playing the relentlessly charming Jesse who Beca for some reason has a hard time being wooed by. For us, however, Astin is an absolute delight.

1 comment:

  1. Agree with you 100% (except the rating — it should be higher).

    "Pitch Perfect" delivers on what the trailer promises, something other current movies fail to do.