Title: Pitch Perfect
Directed By: Jason Moore
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Reel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Adam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins
You don’t have to be perfect to be a ton of fun.
It’s Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) first year at Barden University. She really wants to be out in Los Angeles pursuing her dream of becoming a music producer, but since her father’s a professor at Barden and that gets her a free ride, the degree comes first. In the meantime, she gets by by being antisocial, making new tracks on her computer and working at the school radio station. When Chloe (Brittany Snow) catches her singing in the shower, she corners her – literally – and insists Beca join the school’s all-girl a cappella group, The Bellas.
The Bellas are good, but they’ll never beat their campus rivals, The Treblemakers, singing Ace of Base songs and other tired tunes. Trouble is, the Bellas’ leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), is all about tradition and, to her, tradition calls for scarves, updos and, well, repetition.
Yes, we’ve seen it all before, time and time again, in fact! But there’s something about “Pitch Perfect” that makes it stand out from the lot; it’s an absolute blast. Kay Cannon’s adaptation of the Mickey Rapkin book is absolutely ridden with college clichés and some painfully tacky dialogue, not to mention a totally predictable relationship and singing competition, but it’s also got more than enough charm to wipe the large majority of the problems away.
“Pitch Perfect” lays it all out right in the opening. It’s competition night, the pressure is on and Aubrey must take the lead. Without spoiling anything, the performance doesn’t go well and it’s wonderfully and disgustingly surprising how far the filmmakers take it. And that’s the vibe of the film from beginning to end. It looks like a teen-friendly feature version of “Glee,” but “Pitch Perfect” gets gross, crude and quite raunchy, too.
Per usual, everything that comes out of Rebel Wilson’s mouth is hilarious. Fat Amy is right in Wilson’s wheelhouse, but her shtick isn’t getting tiresome in the least. Camp is, well, pitch perfect as Aubrey. She’s got that attitude down and handles quite a bit of crude comedy with ease. Brittany Snow makes for a nice sidekick as Chloe, Aubrey’s right hand, but someone who can also see that The Bellas need some revamping. We’ve also got a slew of memorable supporting Bellas, but the standout is definitely Hana Mae Lee as Lily. Why? Words can’t even describe it. (No, not a writing copout; see the movie!)
The guy’s side is lead by the cutie out for Beca’s heart, Jesse. He’s nothing special as far as idealistic romantic comedies go, but Skylar Astin is sweet, charming and can sing so will have no trouble winning female audience members over. Ben Platt doesn’t get as much time in the spotlight as he deserves as Jesse’s über geeky roommate Benji, but still manages to have quite the payoff towards the tail end of the film. Adam DeVine also makes a great impression as the Treblemakers’ lead jerk, Bumper, easily the quickest to burst into song, and some good songs at that.
With all these memorable characters running around, it’s a wonder there’s room for the film’s lead, but Kendrick commands the screen with ease and turns Beca into the movie’s backbone. Again, not the most original character out there and often unnecessarily moody, but Beca is still someone you want to root for.
That’s really what “Pitch Perfect” is all about – being a film you can just have some fun with. The story structure is either all over the place, defying standards to stick in a few more clichés, or so in line with the underdog-competition type of films we’ve seen before that you’ll see every twist and turn coming. Beca’s hopes to become a music producer are forgotten about half way through the film, we’ve got no clue where Benji runs off to for most of the middle and the tension between Bumper and Fat Amy is never resolved, but there’s puke, good jokes and catchy tunes. You may not leave the theater contemplating the meaning of life or even the value of stepping outside the box, but you will feel the need to break out into song, quote some of the film’s funnier dialogue and just smile.