Film Review: Pitch Perfect hits the right notes

8 Oct

Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect is a rollicking Glee-style comedy written by 30 Rock writer-producer Kay Cannon.  Its addictive mixes and melodious cast are sure to draw high notes of laughter from audiences.  Anna Kendrick (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 50/50) plays Beca, a natural loner who dreams of becoming a professional DJ.  Though it’s her freshman year, she has no interest in being in college, so she sulks around campus wearing dark eyeliner until her professor father pressures her to take part in university life.  To appease him, Beca joins the Barden Bellas, an all-female competitive a cappella group that has been humiliated in the previous year’s finals.  The group has lost most of its members and is desperately seeking newbies.  Fortunately for the Bellas, no one can say no to a naked Brittany Snow (Hairspray).

The Bellas’ leader, a type-A control freak named Aubrey (Anna Camp), is reluctant to accept Beca because she finds the wannabe DJ a bit too “alternative” (whatever that’s supposed to mean twenty years after 1992) for the group’s prim demeanor.  Still, Aubrey has little choice but to accept any girls who will audition, so she ends up with a motley collection that includes a sex addict (played by the gorgeous Alexis Knapp), a not-so-in-the-closet lesbian, a girl who speaks so quietly that no one can hear her (but who tends to mouth things like, “I ate my twin in the womb”), and Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy, “the best singer in Tazmania with teeth.”

As part of this ensemble, Beca may excel at mixing, but her character seems a bit off-key.  Because Beca doesn’t have much personality other than being anti, Kendrick isn’t given enough of a chance to stand out as a comedian.  Instead, the real rock star of this film is Rebel Wilson.  We get to see more of her here than in Bridesmaids or Bachelorette, and it’s hardly possible to overstate her absolute brilliance as she delivers some of the best lines in the film, of which the trailer highlights only a few.  Whether she’s purring a line under her breath or belting out a solo, she steals every scene she’s in.

Honorable mentions go to John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, People Like Us) as the anything-goes competition announcers.  Their humor comes from their brutal and hilarious honesty, as when one group performs using sock puppets and finds itself introduced as “The Sockappellas, proving that it doesn’t get better for everyone after high school.”  The thing that makes this film so much fun (other than its diverse, aberrant characters) is how perfectly it locates the comedy in the seriousness with which these contests are taken.  As Banks’s character explains, in the world of a cappella, “A mistake can haunt you for the rest of your life — and affect your children.”

Also noteworthy is Bumper (Adam DeVine), the wonderfully slimy lead singer of the Treble Makers, a group of guys who are geeks in real life until they get on the stage, where they’re the bosses of collegiate a cappella.  Even in his few scenes, DeVine (Workaholics) creates one of the film’s most memorable characters.  He’s kind of like a mini Jack Black.

One can only hope and pray for a sequel featuring Wilson and DeVine as the leads.  What a sophomore year that would be.

Final Verdict:  Overall, Pitch Perfect is a riotous comedy with a sharp script, perfect casting and courageously-mixed music.  It’s every bit as hilarious as the world of collegiate a cappella competitions should be.

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