Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee with John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks.
Written by Kay Cannon, based on the book by Mickey Rapkin
Directed by Jason Moore
Every decade we seem to get that one young female driven comedy, you know that one teen/”chick flick” film, that manages to transcend the basic genre trappings with a smart, funny script and great performances. The 80’s brought us Sixteen Candles, 90’s the Amy Heckerling classic Clueless and back in 2000 we got the cheerleading opus that spawned many inferior sequels, Bring it On. And now, 12 years after Bring It On, we get the next contender to join this exclusive group with Pitch Perfect.
Beca (Kendrick) is an aspiring DJ forced to go to college by her professor father against her wishes to go to New York and chase her own dreams. Stuck with a rude, disinterested roommate, Beca is forced by her father to engage and participate in activities at the school because if she does and still decides she wants to leave for New York to follow her dream he will finance the trip. A strange encounter in the bathroom leads Beca to try out for the Barden Bellas a capella group. While Beca strongly believes in taking the group into a modern approach with song mixing and contemporary while Aubrey (Camp) is still stubbornly sticking to the classics. With stiff competition coming from the reigning champion Treblemakers and their determined leader Bumper (Devine), the girls must earn their way back to prominence after a disastrous final the year before. Armed the self-professed “greatest singer in Tasmania” Fat Amy (Wilson), Senior and featured singer Chloe (Snow), the oversexed Stacie (Knapp) and the uber-quiet Lilly (Mae Lee) the new looks Bellas must embrace a new routine if they want to be victorious in the end.
Anna Kendrick is completely miscast in the role of Beca, and it doesn’t matter at all as she delivers a fantastic performance. Kendrick is playing completely against type here just continues to prove she is fast becoming one of the most watchable and fascinating actresses working right now. As much as Kendrick delivers here, it will be Rebel Wilson that people will be talking about. Much like last year’s break out from Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (a film Wilson also appeared in) where she overshadowed the equally as good lead performances from Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, Wilson rips Pitch Perfect away from Kendrick in every scene she appears. In a surprising and refreshing supporting role, Brittany Snow delivers one of her best performances ever. The rest of the cast is solid here too, with other standouts including Mae Lee’s wacky performance as Lilly and the brash and bombastic Bumper played by Adam DeVine.
The script is intelligent and well crafted, avoiding the pitfalls that other teen comedies dwell in while still embracing conventions of the genre with a different mentality. Are some of the scenes straight up formulaic? Yes there are many, but they are played out with more realism that the typical “movie realism” that we’ve seen so many times before. The setting and locations help set the tone and for the shenanigans that ensue. Director Moore does an excellent job at keeping the pace brisk and in check; the film never loses you for a minute but instead loads you on board and keeps you on board for the entire ride.
Is Pitch Perfect the next in line of female aimed teen comedies that will crossover into the mainstream? Absolutely, but this is also the type of film that will work for both genders of all ages regardless.