In Pitch Perfect, Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a college freshman and aspiring DJ who may hold the key to getting the Bellas, an all-girls a cappella group, the collegiate championship.
Beca isn’t entirely a willing participant, but joining the Bellas gives her something to do to appease her father, and even gets her closer to romantic interest Jesse (Skylar Astin), who is a new member of defending champions The Treblemakers. Jesse also has ambitions to score movies, a rather unique occupation in the scheme of theatrical narratives, which does something to accentuate Pitch Perfect without devolving into a scene-lifting rip-off. Looking at you Easy A.
Playing on the Bridesmaids concept of the antichick flick, the brash humor of Pitch Perfect plays out with little of the typical drama. The girls are each unique, given spotlight moments, and are each on the same page though they have a different shtick to their comedy. Stacie (Alexis Knapp) is the group’s promiscuous harlot. Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) is almost entirely inaudible—for comedic effect—raising questions as to why she was picked up by the Bellas. Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) is a hip hop representing, gambling addicted lesbian. The scene stealer is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), a hyper-confident Tasmanian force of random quips and slapstick which send the belly into convulsions. There’s even a duo that go largely unnoticed by the audience simply for lampshade hanging. Returning Bellas Aubrey & Chloe (Anna Camp and Brittany Snow, respectively) do their best to send-up Bring It On.
Making his directorial debut, Jason Moore achieves a welcome blend. Beca is essentially pulled into this surreal, over-the-top world along with the audience. The a cappella songs are well presented, sung, and delightful. It may seem at times that Pitch Perfect is making fun of the a cappella community, but this approach is better than playing to the whims of the those members, evidenced by the gaudy style of the laughably serious Step Up franchise, which is even lampooned by Pitch Perfect through the riff off. Give some credit to the commentating team of John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks who keep the mood light even during the heated competition.
Rated PG-13, Pitch Perfect may go places that some parents would prefer a young teen not, but this is a rather tame bunch of college geeks. Though the vocal performances are delightful, they are few enough in number to hold together a narrative which is mindful of avoiding clichés and plugging any holes with comedy. Pitch Perfect hits the high note. ***