Tuesday 15 January 2013


When alt-chick Beca (Anna Kendrick) arrives at college, her lecturer father makes a deal with her that if she joins one of the many clubs on campus, he will fund her move to New York to pursue her musical dreams. After joining the failing a capella group, The Barden Bellas, along with an array of collegiate misfits, Beca tries to bring a new eclectic style to their tired old routines.

Let's get this out of the way right now. Pitch Perfect isn't Glee. It's much better than Glee. It is what Glee promised to be when it first aired until it collapsed in on itself like a dying star, becoming the very thing it set out to mock to ensure it built a following rather than providing quality programming. A lot of the thanks for Pitch Perfect avoiding the same path is down to a witty script that, although it may be hung on a predictable and by-the-numbers premise, never fails to be funny and engaging.

Starring the extremely likeable Anna Kendrick as Beca, a laptop-owning, music-remixing genius who prefers to use instruments rather than her voice to create music; she's offbeat and charming without resorting to being a kooky girl stereotype. Likewise the rest of the Bellas; they're individuals each with their own comic characteristics, be it the mouse-like Lilly ("I set fires to feel joy") or the almighty Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy with too many great one-liners to mention.

Wilson has had notable appearances in "chick" comedies such as Bridesmaids and Bachelorette, but this is the role that will help make her a new comic star. Fat Amy (so called so that skinny girls won't call it her behind her back) is sharp, funny, sweet and can belt out a tune too. Wilson almost walks away with the entire movie, only stopped by Kendrick's Beca taking centre stage, although it's Wilson who provides the most laughs.

In the words of Elizabeth Banks' cameoing commentator, "nothing makes a woman feel like a girl more than a man who sings like a boy", and Beca's rollercoaster romance with Jesse, one of the rival groups singers, follows pretty much the path you would expect it too. However, it's inoffensive enough to warrant inclusion to keep the younger audience members happy. He's into '80s movies and likes singing in harmonies, but along with the magic loving Benji and a whole host of background "boys", he comes across as a bit dull compared to the wonderfully named Bumper, the Jack Black-esque lead singer of the Treblemakers and the most obnoxious jerk ever to walk the Earth.

There's numerous musical highlights that showcase eclectic musical styles (or mash ups as the kids would say), the best being the so called "riff-off's". Essentially a popular music karaoke version of 8 Mile, it's in these scenes that the groups show what they're made of.

This isn't specifically a teen comedy, more aimed at a slightly older audience, complete with friendly digs towards its a-capella rival, Glee. It has some of the trappings of the teen movie genre (complete with references to what may be the quintessential teen angst movie, The Breakfast Club) and occasionally struggles to find the right balance to keep its audience happy, the forays into gross out humour not sitting very well alongside the musical numbers.

Still, it's that rarest of things; an utterly girly movie that guys can enjoy too, and a great calling card for the musical and comedic stylings of Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick. You could do a lot worse than try a little musical appreciation.


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