Review of Pitch Perfect


Movie Review: "Pitch Perfect"

-- Rating: PG-13 (drug references, sexual material, language)
Length: 112 minutes
Release Date: October 5, 2012
Directed by: Jason Moore
Genre: Musical/Comedy

"Pitch Perfect" will likely be compared to "Glee" because of the music club competitions that permeate both. A more apt comparison would be to "Bring it On," the cheerleader movie starring Kirsten Dunst. Both movies are quick-witted and fun while still having charm and smarts to spare. Even though "Pitch Perfect" is set in college, it does not dumb down teenagers or their culture.

The college in question is the fictional Barden University, where the incoming class of wide-eyed freshmen must replace last year's female a capella group, the Bellas. Most of the Bellas from the previous year have graduated, with the glaring exception of group leader Aubrey (Anna Camp), who is on a mission of redemption. The Bellas were close to winning the big competition last year, but she vomited on stage and ruined the potential victory.

Though Aubrey is the captain of the team, the biggest star is arguably Amy (Rebel Wilson), who, in a preemptive attempt to diffuse the taunts of skinny girls, prefers to be called Fat Amy. Fat Amy is all sass and attitude, with the vocal talent to match. Her singing is only rivaled by freshman newcomer Beca (Anna Kendrick), who really doesn't want to be a Bella at all. She longs to become a professional DJ and music producer in Los Angeles, but her father has insisted that she go to college for at least one semester and join a club.

The all-boys rival group is the Treblemakers, led by Jesse (Skyler Astin). These two teams hate each other, despite the fact that they are competing for the same school. Beca and Jesse manage to strike up a friendship despite the animosity, which provides the romantic element to a film that otherwise focuses on the music. The Bellas begin to regroup and try new material, largely because of Beca's musical influence. The result is a treat for the audience's ears, with fun choreography to match. There is a nice selection of contemporary songs mixed with a few oldies and medleys thrown in for fun. Audience members will be hard pressed not to start tapping their feet or bopping their heads when watching each of the musical numbers.

Director Jason Moore wisely let the ladies take over the screen, which helps make the movie so funny. Outside of the carefully-choreographed dance numbers, there is a feeling of improv throughout the film as the Bellas interact with each other in a natural, believable way. Sometimes, the director who does less and doesn't overthink things is best for a movie. That is clearly the case here with Moore and "Pitch Perfect."

All the actresses portraying Bellas turn in solid performances with excellent comic timing. Kendrick stands out as a teenager who wants to get on with her life despite the protestations of the adults around her. Her evolution from troublemaker to singing sensation doesn't feel forced at all, mostly because Kendrick knows how to play both drama and comedy.

The real standout, though, is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. Wilson seems to be making a habit of stealing almost every scene she is in. Watching her light up the screen in "Pitch Perfect" feels a lot like watching a star being born. She has a knack for both physical and verbal comedy that simply can't be taught. Don't be surprised to see her making a lot more movies in the future, hopefully with her in the lead.

The script was written by Kay Cannon, who has written some of the sharpest episodes of "30 Rock." She works alongside the great Tina Fey, and Fey's influence on her can clearly be seen in "Pitch Perfect." In fact, there is some resemblance to the script for "Mean Girls," which Fey penned. The laser-sharp dialogue and subtle parody of teen comedies are hallmarks of both screenplays, and both are done extraordinarily well. There has been an ongoing controversy within the movie industry about movie executives believing that women aren't funny, or at the very least, they are not as funny as men. Cannon's script and the performances of Camp, Kendrick, and especially Wilson blow this belief out of the water.

Rating: 3 out of 5