Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect (2012)
★★★ / ★★★★

It is only fitting that The Barden Bellas, led by Aubrey (Anna Camp) the control freak, and the Treblemakers, led by the bombastic Bumper (Adam DeVine), face-off at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Although both groups attend Barden University, their rivalry has grown so intense over the years that their drive to overcome the other eclipses their commonalities. The former is humiliated when Aubrey, so stressed and so intent on winning, has an accident on stage.

A new school year begins but Beca (Anna Kendrick), a freshman, does not even want to go to college. She fails to see the point since her dream is to become a music producer, mixing tracks being one of her hobbies. Her father, a professor at the university, insists that she attends her classes and puts in the effort to experience the privilege sitting on her lap. If she does and comes to the conclusion that college is still not for her, her dad promises to help her move to Los Angeles so she can pursue her passion. Inevitably, Beca joins The Barden Bellas and, despite the hardships, finds it surprisingly gratifying.

“Pitch Perfect,” loosely based on Mickey Rapkin’s book, is an energetic and sassy musical, full of one-liners so clever that it is a shame its subplot involving a romance prevents it from reaching great heights. Even though it is bogged down by unnecessary drama between Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin), a fellow freshman who joins the Treblemakers, the mash-up of songs combined with enthusiastic performances keep the entertainment value from diminishing.

The musical numbers are fun to listen to even though I was not very familiar with most of the songs. Of course, the classics ring a bell but the ones taken from the radio are catchy enough to be, in the least, bearable. I liked it best when different music genres are fused into a musical number to create a feverish celebration of what makes music so universal, lasting, and personal.

The lead performance by Kendrick is expected, but it is her co-stars that shine. Considering the range that we’ve seen from her as a budding actor, Kendrick does not look like she is being challenged here but she plays her character with enough youthful zest combined with an appropriate dosage of cute and slightly moody energy to be believable as an alternative chick. What is surprising, however, is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy and the actor’s willingness to put herself out there by welcoming the material to poke fun of her body type. Her confidence really shines and it makes me want to see what other things she has to offer. Representing people with extra body weight aside, Wilson has a knack for comedy. Each time she is on camera, she delivers her line with a brashness and yet we cannot help but want to be her friend.

The romance between Beca and Jesse is toxic to the picture. I think I wanted to like Jesse because he likes (good) movies… even though his taste is unbearably typical. However, it seems like the screenplay by Kay Cannon has forgotten to put some spice into his personality. He is as dull as a wooden plank and so when it comes time for the romance to heat up between he and Becca, it goes nowhere. Other than they both enjoy singing in their respective a cappella groups, I was unable to buy into why they would be drawn to one another on a deeper level. The big fight and eventual reconnection they have can be seen from the moment they happen to meet at their internship. The trials of whatever they have may not have been so bad if it had been minimized. Instead, their interactions make the picture feel longer than it is.

Some of you might be wondering how many words it will take for this review to mention Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan’s television show called “Glee.” The answer is six hundred sixty. Although the film shares more than a handful similarities to the show, “Pitch Perfect,” directed by Jason Moore, is appropriately less quirky in order to place the spotlight on the talent involved.

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