I confess, I enjoy Glee and I’ve been a “Gleek,” since day one. Truth is, I love music, dance and yes, musicals. Many of my students attended an early screen of Pitch Perfect, a new, musically infused film starring Anna Kendrick and returned raving. Press couldn’t attend that screening, but because of my students’ enthusiastic praise, I looked forward to the seeing the movie. While I might not harbor the same level of excitement, I did very much enjoy the cute little tale, made more appealing by an outstanding cast and entertaining music.
Beca (Kendrick) creates music through computer generated music mash-ups, but singing, performing and the like hold no interest to her. Rather than let her venture off to the unknown and unpredictable music world of L.A., Beca’s father, a Barden University professor, insists that she give school a try and forces her to join an organization to get the full college experience. Reluctantly, Beca abides, choosing, half my chance, to join the university’s glee club, the Barden Belles, a group stuck in the past musically and emotionally. Going up against the team’s rigid leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp) and her at first pliable sidekick Chloe (Brittney Snow), Beca finds her place in a group of talented oddballs.
Not unlike Bring it On (cheer squads) and Drumline (marching bands), Pitch Perfect pits college A Capella groups against one another in a national competition – one where the Belles consistently lose to rival boy group, the Treble Makers. Luckily, while little is new in story, the fun cast makes things fresh – one who shines in particular is Rebel Wilson (as Fat Amy), And all too brief appearances by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins steal the show. The have a hilarious knack for stating the obvious as competition commentators. Together Banks and Higgins spew out some of the funniest lines I have heard in a long time. Also, I recently watched Wilson in Bachelorettes where her comedic talent is totally wasted, not so in this.
Kendrick is adorable, even if she can’t completely shake the sweet girl image for an alternative, semi-bad girl, as are co-stars Snow and Camp. Camp’s mean girl persona rivals others and Snow, who deserves meatier roles, is great as well. And thankfully, the music, ranging from well to decently sung by its stars, pleases too. Until Glee, I had no what “mash-up” meant and Pitch Perfect offers rousing renditions of old, new and mashed-up hits. The movie entertains in spite of a tepid romance between Beca and Jesse Skylar Astin,, blatant stereotyping, director Jason Moore’s delivery of predictable, albeit satisfying, outcomes.
Pitch Perfect, rated PG-13 is clean enough on one hand, all the while edgy enough to appeal to its target audience – teens to twenty-something’s or anyone who loves laughing and quality music. Perky melodious entertainment outweighs the film’s obvious faults.
Laurie’s Final Grade: B