- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s only inevitable that “Pitch Perfect” is going to draw comparisons to “Glee,” but while the success of the Fox series certainly helped pave the way for making organized singing groups cool again, that would be like comparing Adele to Katy Perry. For starters, the story actually has an authenticity to it (no doubt one of the few things carried over from Mickey Rapkin’s 2008 exposé) that makes the preposterous fantasy scenarios of “Glee” seem even more ridiculous, and the actors sound like they’re actually singing the songs without that over-produced quality. In fact, the film feels a lot more like the a cappella cousin to the “Step Up” movies, and although that may not inspire a ton of confidence, it’s an immensely charming comedy filled with great performances (both acting and musical) that’s only slightly hindered by its conventional formula.
The adorable Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, an aspiring music producer who begrudgingly agrees to attend college at Barden University after striking a deal with her father that if she doesn’t enjoy her first year, she can quit school and move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream. But when she’s convinced to join the all-girls a cappella singing group The Bellas by one of its veteran members (Brittany Snow), Beca is surprised to discover that it doesn’t totally suck, despite the fact that its dictatorial leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) is a little too comfortable singing the same boring songs at every competition. Desperate to inject some flair into the group with her talent for musical arrangements, Beca seeks to turn The Bellas’ fortunes around in time to take on their all-male rivals at the national championships.
Much like the “Step Up” series, one of the film’s big draws is the musical performances, and although there’s no denying that they’re a lot of fun to watch, “Pitch Perfect” would be just as shallow as those dance movies without such a great cast. Anna Kendrick proves why she’s quickly cemented herself as one of this generation's brightest talents as the main protagonist, and Brittany Snow and Anna Camp deliver solid supporting work, but it’s Australian up-and-comer Rebel Wilson who absolutely steals the show as the self-proclaimed Fat Amy. Wilson showed a glimmer of her excellent comedic timing in last year's “Bridesmaids,” but her performance here officially marks her as a comic to watch. The only actors who come close to earning as many laughs as Wilson are John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks as a couple of politically incorrect commentators.
Written by Kay Cannon, whose experience as a writer on NBC’s “30 Rock” tells you all you need to know about the movie's offbeat sense of humor, “Pitch Perfect” is the kind of film that many people would normally overlook based on the premise alone, but that would be a mistake. Though it’s definitely targeted more toward Gleeks and women in general, the movie has a much larger crossover appeal than you might think, with some edgier comedy (including a running gag involving a soft-spoken Asian member of the group and two instances of projectile vomit) that helps distinguish it from the countless other coming-of-age stories. What "Pitch Perfect" lacks in originality, however, it makes up for in other areas to deliver one of this year's most pleasantly surprising comedies.
Two-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The bonus material on Universal’s Blu-ray release of “Pitch Perfect” is pretty lackluster – especially the audio commentary by director Jason Moore and producers Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman, as well as the secondary track by producer Paul Brooks – but there are a few extras that don't totally suck. The Line-O-Rama feature is good for a few laughs, as is the handful of extended sequences, and “On the Set" is a short but sweet look at shooting the drive-by burrito scene. Rounding out the two-disc set are a few deleted scenes, promotional featurettes and a DVD and digital copy of the movie.