I am predisposed to liking musicals. To paraphrase a good friend, any movie that features characters spontaneously breaking into song and/or dance is automatically better. I grew up with musicals-both film and theater- and even the terrible ones are still pretty great. I’ve also discovered, thanks in large part to NBC’s late “The Sing Off”, an appreciation for A Capella music. So when these two likes of mine merge into one in the form of “Pitch Perfect” it would be impossible for me to resist.
Come on though, you know how this is going to go: I loved it! Even the issues I noticed with it (see below) were relatively minor and
ignoreable. But the talent, the comedy, and the general awsomeness of the execution made this film thoroughly enjoyable. It doesn’t hurt that all of the music and movie references are 100% in my wheelhouse. Seriously, “The Breakfast Club” is a plot point in this movie, and I’ve seen that about a million times.
Anna Kendrick (who also features in the equally awesome “Camp” which you should see if you haven’t yet) stars as a reluctant member of an all female college a capella team. The team, The Bellas, is trying to redeem themselves after a disastrous national championship the previous year. And, before this hits your “sounds too much like Glee” eject button, the plot really is only a hanger for some stellar performances numbers. Newcomer Skylar Astin, along with didn’t-know-they-sang Rebel Wilson and Anna Camp also feature and could not be better. Special shout out to comedy heavyweights John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks (also a producer) who cameo as quirky-borderline filthy- event announcers. Small throwaway scenes that were brought to a much higher level with these two in the mix. Which, in a weird way is the story of the movie as a whole. This is one of those films that, when watching the trailer you think “YES! But, why was this made?!” Think “Bring it On” in that when you first heard about it you knew it would be amazing (and it is) but who was really crying out for a cheerleader film? The answer, of course, you were, you just didn’t know. This is that movie.
While the musical numbers are fantastic, my only quibble is that they take too much time to get to them. As I said, the plot is only barely there to begin with, so the long stretches between raucous songs feel especially arid. The actors try, and the comedy is really well delivered but the plodding romance (that ends exactly as you know it will) should have been paced better and framed even more great music. And, I don’t mean lavish production numbers- the “riff-off” and pool medley scenes are wonderful and very simple.
This film does a great job at playing its strengths, but if it had played them harder and more upfront it would’ve been a smash. As it is, it’s great fun and the music is fantastic but it leaves you begging for more. And, as we see time and time again in the film the cast can MORE than deliver. A-