Beca (Anna Kendrick), a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, the school's all-girl a capella group, led by the demanding and headstrong Aubrey (Anna Camp), competing against the all-boy a capella group, The Treblemakers. But The Bellas are stuck in an old groove, despite Beca's attempts to make them more energetic and relevant. Meanwhile, Beca's budding relationship with Treblemaker member Jesse (Skylar Astin) is taking a buffeting.
Review by Louise Keller:
Making music with your mouth is the name of the game in this upbeat and likeable musical romance in which singing groups compete in collegiate a capella competitions. Based on a novel by Mickey Rapkin, everything about the film feels fresh. It's the debut feature for director Jason Moore and screenwriter Kay Cannon (both from a television background), while the effervescent cast, headed by the enigmatic Anna Kendrick simply rocks, as its teen target market would say. But there are enough elements to broaden the appeal of this funny, happy coming of age film that promotes friendship, love and following your dreams.
Kendrick plays Beca, who arrives at Barden University under duress from her remarried, literature professor father, when she would rather be chasing her musical rainbow. The set up in which we meet all the key characters clearly establishes the film's tone, which is light, fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. There's a delicious cynical edge to the collegiate radio commentators played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, whose unscripted remarks on the competition musical numbers reveals a lemon-mouthed bitterness.
We are there as Beca settles into college routine with her po-faced uncommunicative room mate Kimmy Jin (Jinhee Joung), and her new role as one of the Barden Bellas, the ambitious all-girl a capella singing group that demands girls with bikini-ready bodies and perfect pitch, where its hysterical leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) insists on musical choices based on her old school ideas. That is, until Beca joins the group.
They're a wonderful lively bunch, the Barden Bellas and Beca's unofficial 'audition' takes place naked in the shower, with Aubrey's offsider Chloe (Brittany Snow, excellent). Rebel Wilson offers the comic relief as Fat Amy, allegedly the best singer in Tasmania, who excels at mermaid dancing and has simultaneously wrestled crocodiles and dingos. Wilson clearly delights in playing the Fat Girl, waiting to pounce on any outrageous moment or spit out an offensively honest remark. Hana Mae Lee is very funny as Lill, the whisper quiet group member whose mouth does fish impressions.
Then there are the boys from the Treble Makers, with Skylar Astin excellent (as well as charismatic) as Beca's love interest Jesse, and Ben Platt amusing as his nerdy, magic-obsessed, roommate Benjii, who also aspires to sing. There's a nice story strain involving movies: Beca is not into films because she thinks the endings are predictable, whereas Jesse (wisely) knows differently.
While the evolving relationship between Beca and Jesse forms the heart of the film, the pulse takes flight from the music and the beat. The musical numbers are extremely well done and the talent of the cast shines through at every count. Of course all the purists will scoff because the music is not really a capella, being singing without any accompaniment. Here, the music comprises counterpoints and layering, but the accompaniment of the rhythms of the synthesiser totally changes its impact. But as a former a capella singer, I am just being pedantic.
For the target market, there are laughs galore, toe-tapping rhythms and a good up-tempo beat as Pitch Perfect hits its notes and delivers a romping fun time.
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PITCH PERFECT (M)
CAST: Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alexis Knapp, Brittany Snow, Eric Hennig, Anna Camp, Adam DeVine, John Michael Higgins
PRODUCER: Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman, Paul Brooks
DIRECTOR: Jason Moore
SCRIPT: Kay Cannon (book by Mickey Rapkin)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Julia Macat
MUSIC: Christophe Beck, Mark Kilian
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 6, 2012
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.