The cutthroat world of college a capella competition finally gets the big screen treatment with Pitch Perfect. And for everyone who was initially captivated by Glee but has slowly come to realize its best days are behind it, the movie arrives on the scene like a song-and-dance kick in the pants– a perfect storm of killer tunes and gut-busting comedy.
Based (barely) on the nonfiction book by Mickey Rapkin, it centers primarily on a college campus where not one but two a capella groups regularly duke it out at Nationals. But the all-male Treble Makers and the all-female Bellas are as different as night and day.
The boys dress in hoodies and jeans and belt out mash-ups of hip-hop and pop favorites to the delight of the crowd. The Bellas are decked out like 50s-era flight attendants and are content to offer up blasé versions of silly tunes like Ace of Base’s “The Sign”. When Pitch Perfect begins, the Bellas’ Aubrey (Anna Camp) is sealing her group’s fate with a very unfortunate onstage moment.
As a result, no one wants any part of the Bellas anymore, so at the following fall’s Barden University Activities Fair, the remaining members are pleading for anyone (anyone!) to join. What they get is a motley crew that has no chance of ever amounting to anything.
That is, until an aspiring DJ named Beca (Anna Kendrick) arrives on campus and gets cornered (literally) into joining the group. Unfortunately, Aubrey is so set in her traditional ways that she doesn’t allow Beca to shake things up. But I bet you can see where this one is headed.
Written by 30 Rock scribe Kay Cannon, Pitch Perfect is a smile-a-minute, laugh-out-loud riot. With a perfect mixture of low-brow humor and whip-smart comedy, it’s a bit like Bridesmaids for the college a capella set. And veteran Broadway director Jason Moore (Avenue Q) keep things fast and loose, creating a flick that will still be quoted and watched over and over again years from now.
Kendrick anchors the movie with charm and charisma (and a heck of a voice), and the fact that she is able to carry the day despite one of the better supporting casts of the year speaks volumes. Rebel Wilson (speaking of Bridesmaids) steals absolutely every scene she’s in, and John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks, as the competition commentators, will have you doubled over in hysteria.
The only place Pitch Perfect falls short is with a few of its subplots, including the obligatory parental strife one and the ridiculously trite “love story” one. All is forgiven, though, in the movie’s final twenty minutes when the music takes over.
It’s not often that applause breaks out in a movie theater, but it did several times during Pitch Perfect. And it deserved every bit.