Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Pitch Perfect ***½
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp
Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Skylar Astin
Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins
Movies about young people are often petty, predictable, condescending or a combination of them all, which is why it's always a real pleasure to find one that defies expectations and the limits of age group. You know the kind...Sixteen Candles, Mean Girls, Bring It On, Easy A, Clueless. On paper, Pitch Perfect had all the makings of a bomb: a movie about a group of female a capella singers who recruit the new tough girl, who then proceeds to show them how it's done while discovering she too has a heart.
The group in question are the Barden Bellas led by prim control freak Aubrey (Camp) who favors Ace of Base and flight attendant uniforms and the tough girl is freshman student Beca (Kendrick), an amateur DJ who only joins the group to show her dad she has some social skills. After a shameful event last time they went to regionals, the Bellas are hard at work trying to regain their old glory and start taking on "unconventional" members; besides Beca, they make room for soft spoken Lilly (Lee), seductive Stacie (Knapp) and the full figured Fat Amy (a scene stealing Wilson).
Throughout the movie it's pretty obvious where things are headed for, but there is not a single second here that doesn't feel fresh and original. Director Moore works Kay Cannon's screenplay (based on a book by Mickey Rapkin) in a way that we get to know the characters well enough without recurring to overdone expositions or cliché (Banks and Higgins are phenomenal in short parts). There is a scene where the Bellas decide to have a heart to heart that's underplayed in all the right ways. There are lines and dialogues that you know you will be quoting for years to come and even the musical selection is rather supreme (hits from Madonna to Kelly Clarkson make key appearances). The cast is excellent; all the actors create an enviable synergy that works because, just as in the plot, it takes the best from people who couldn't be more different if they tried.
The best part about Pitch Perfect is realizing its pleasures aren't merely Glee Stockholm Syndrome, but that through heart and wit it injects new life into something trite and overdone. The film truly has nothing new to say and it doesn't reinvent any art forms, however it does what it does so well, that just like the pop songs it pays homage to, it gets under your skin and there will be nothing you can do to help yourself from moving to its beat.