Review: 'Pitch Perfect' starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson
Essentially an episode of Glee(if it were any good) mixed with Bring It On, Pitch Perfect is exactly what the doctor ordered for those who can't get enough of Nelly and Bruno Mars mash-ups.The film's peppy, upbeat scale is carried by Anna Kendrick, who perhaps faster than any other has become an actress we implicitly trust and immediately cheer for. Here she gets to show off not only her comedic chops but also her impressive vocal range for the first time since she busted out 'Ladies Who Lunch' in Todd Graff's Camp.
Kendrick slips into the unfamiliar role of rebellious college student Beca, who turns up at Barden University with a chip on her shoulder. Her father's a professor and his status grants her a free ride, but Beca's goal is to skip town and hit L.A. for a shot at hitting the big time as a DJ. Pressed into getting out there and experiencing the college life, she initially insults Aubrey(Anna Camp), the domineering but desperate leader of The Barden Bellas, an all-girl a capella group on a recruitment drive. Having projectile vomited their way into an embarrassing loss at the championships, Aubrey and her feisty right hand gal Chloe(a flame-haired Brittany Snow) are having a hard time finding new members. An awkward meeting reveals Beca's vocal chops, and she becomes the first of of a fresh group of peculiar recruits each with their own funny little quirks.
Stealing a page from Christopher Guest's wonderful, satirical explorations of niche genres, Kay Cannon's script is both reverential and dismissive of the dork singing culture. Elizabeth Banks(also a producer) and John Michael Higgins(a Guest favorite) scathingly rip a capella to shreds as commentators for some fictional broadcast. It's like they've taken all the best elements from Guest's terrific Best of Show, only with less dogs and a more lively pace set by debuting director Jason Moore.
Of course love has to be in the air at some point, and Beca dances around a relationship with Jesse(Skyler Astin) a nice guy newbie member of the champion all-boy team The Treblemakers. The feud between the guys 'n gals is so thick that any Bella who dates a "Treble" is immediately kicked off the squad. A few moments of light tension arise, especially when Beca begins to fall for Jesse's plot to win her over through the power of The Breakfast Club's soundtrack. Can't really fault him there. The Trebles are led by a loud-mouthed but talented blowhard named Bumper(Adam DeVine) who delights in humiliating the girls whenever possible, especially Fat Amy. His obnoxious antics, along with those of his crew, keep much of the film from becoming repetitive.
Pitch Perfect isn't especially deep, but for a year that has seen numerous musicals covering much of the same material, it's certainly the best of the bunch and a fun film that hits most of the right high notes.