Genre: Comedy, Music
Run Time: 1 hour 52 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins
Written by Kay Cannon (TV’s 30 Rock), based on the book by Mickey Rapkin
Directed by Jason Moore (feature-film debut)
They say never to judge a book by its cover. Pitch Perfect is a refreshing reminder to never judge a film by its trailer.
In a film clearly inspired by the current pop-music craze – from shows like Glee, The Voice or X Factor – Pitch Perfect is fully aware of its cheesy premise. Bad girl Beca is a freshman at college, and while perusing the campus on opening weekend, she is recruited to join an all-girl singing group known as “The Bellas.” To Beca, there is nothing more lame than a singing group, or conforming to any group at all for that matter. She begrudgingly joins the group, helped out by the fact that A) she can sing, and B) there is a cute boy in a rival boy-group known as “The TrebleMakers” who has caught her eye.
The screenplay was written by Kay Cannon, a writer on TV’s 30 Rock, and any fan of that show should recognize the same brand of over-the-top comedy present here. There is some surprisingly sharp dialogue and some very talented young actors on display. Beyond the already well-known talents of Anna Kendrick, there is the babe-magnet - sensitive but tough – Skylar Astin as Beca’s love interest. Then you have Anna Camp as the prissy and privileged leader of The Bellas. Adam DeVine steals the show as Bumper, who as the leader of “The TrebleMakers,” seems to be channeling some younger version of Jack Black.
Then there is Rebel Wilson. The large-and-in-charge Australian actress has arrived, first gaining notice in Bridesmaids as Kristen Wiig’s uber-odd roommate. She is seemingly always present in Pitch Perfect, always ready with a punch-line or a physical gag at nearly every turn. Somehow, she never wears thin…no pun intended. This marks her best comedic performance to date.
As Beca injects a much-needed shot of attitude into her group, Pitch Perfect injects a much-needed dose of historical appreciation into its target audience of teenagers and young adults. Much of the music that both groups perform are oldies but goodies, which to this generation qualifies as songs from the 80s and early 90s. The cult-classic John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club also plays a very important role in the plot and in the lives of the main characters. Its inclusion is a thinly-veiled homage to these influential films of the era, and that’s OK by me. Pitch Perfect wants to be that deeply relatable film for its target audience, and it just may be.
In linking to the past, Pitch Perfect also manages to lampoons the present. There is an audition scene in the film that perfectly parodies every single type of contestant we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on shows like American Idol. It also continues a trend that started in movies like Best In Show, where the announcers of the big competition at the end of the film end up stealing much of the laughs. With improve auteur John Michael Higgins alongside Elizabeth Banks up in the booth, they continue the tradition with glee (that time, pun intended).
The word that describes Pitch Perfect best is “surprising.” It’s odd that a musical-comedy such as this could be so darned entertaining, but with a very impressive ensemble, a witty script and a very talented leading lady, Pitch Perfect delivers the goods. Is it as good, or will it be as important as The Breakfast Club? Not in my opinion - I’m 30-something – but I would bet that this film resonates deeply with its target audience. Or at the very least, it may get them to download The Breakfast Club.
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