‘Pitch Perfect’ Movie Review

Movies
October 3, 2012

Young cast gets laughs in comedy about college a cappella groups

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"Pitch Perfect"
Starring Anna Kendrick & Brittany Snow
Directed by Jason Moore
PG-13, 112 min.
Released Oct. 5, 2012

Fans of TV’s “Glee” and TV’s numerous popular singing competitions will dig this high-spirited, youthful comedy romp. But anyone who’s ever been specifically bitten by the bug of ultra-competitive college a cappella singing groups, which make all their musical noises vocally, will especially find plenty to like and laugh about.

The real-life campus of Louisiana State University doubles for as the setting of the fictional Barden U. in “Pitch Perfect,” where two rival groups—the all-female Bellas, recovering from an unfortunate previous-season setback, and their male adversaries, the reigning-champion Treblemakers—assemble at the start a new school year.

On the campus teeming with “aca-geeks,” they scout for fresh blood and begin the ramp-up to regional and national competitions.

Freshman Bela (Anna Kendrick) isn’t into the singing scene, but when one of the Bellas hears her “pitch perfect” singing in the shower, she becomes a reluctant recruit.

The petite and perky Kendrick is the movie “veteran” of the cast, with previous supporting roles in three “Twilight” movies, a critically praised co-starring role aside George Clooney in 2009’s “Up in the Air,” and another movie, “End of Watch,” also in theaters now. At 27, she’s still believable playing a college student.

Brittany Snow, who plays the Bella who discovers Beca, made numerous appearances as a young teenager on the soap opera “Guiding Light,” played the spoiled Amber Van Tussle in “Hairspray” (2007) and had a recurring role on TV’s “Harry’s Law.”

Before becoming control-freak Bella taskmaster Aubrey, Anna Camp had a small role in “The Help,” played Caitlin D’Arcy on TV’s “The Good Wife” and stirred up a fan base on the series “True Blood,” in addition to appearing in several other TV roles.

Adam Devine, who struts with cocky over-confidence as the leader of the Treblemakers, will be familiar to viewers of Comedy Central’s hilarious “Workaholics” series. Elizabeth Banks (one of the movie’s producers) and John Michael Higgins toss off a cascade of snarky aca-zingers as recurring competition commentators.

But it’s Rebel Wilson who steals the show. The saucy Aussie stand-up comedian-turned-actress, introduced to American audiences with a small part in the raunchy comedy “Bridesmaids,” truly gets to shine here. As Fat Amy, she’s a big, bountiful Bella whose generous physical proportions are matched by her gift of knowing how, when and where to sprinkle just the right amount of comedic side-dish seasoning onto any scene or snippet of dialogue. She steals this show.

We get to know the characters and follow them through various subplots, in particular a “forbidden” romance between Beca and one of the off-limits Treblemakers. But the movie really comes alive in the music, a fresh, energetic mash-up of trad and rad that the two groups work up for their performances.

The hip, witty script, by “30 Rock” writer Kay Cannon, is full of fun, feisty fire, and there’s only one real comedic misstep, a running gag of gross-out, puke-tastic messiness that the movie runs into the ground…and smears all over the floor.   

But otherwise “Pitch Perfect” hits a lot of right notes for a movie that only wants to make you laugh, and the young, extremely enthusiastic cast gives this tune-filled tale of competing college crooners a delightfully entertaining spin.