By Wilson Morales
With America’s fascination with TV’s ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice,’ there was bound to be a film that resonated with audiences when it comes to music. While there have been plenty of musical films in the past, including this year’s ‘Rock of Ages,’ Universal’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ doesn’t score on originality, but becomes a winner due to the appealing efforts of the cast, the songs, and the comedy. One can say that this is a mashup of ‘Bring It On’ meets ‘Glee’ with some ‘Bridesmaids’ humor that fans will go giddy for.
Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a freshman at her father’s school where she wants to leave and become a full-time record producer despite receiving free tuition. Reluctant but willing to give school a try, she gets an internship at the local radio station, where she hopes to play her mashup music she puts together.
Meanwhile, rather than the football or basketball team being the big group on campus, that honor belongs to Bumper (Adam Levine) and The Treble Makers, a male group of a cappella singers, who are the reigning collegiate champs. At last year’s final, their opponent and fellow classmates, The Barden Bellas, lost when their lead singer Aubrey (Anna Camp) famously vomited on stage while singing ‘The Sign’ (by Ace of Base). With her trusted friend Chloe (Brittany Snow), they try to recruit a new crop of singers who will help them return to the finals.
First to join the group is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), who’s not the bikini lad woman they were looking for, but can sing a tune. She’s then followed by group of “misfits,” which include girl (Hana Mae Lee) who one can barely hear, another (Alexis Knapp) who flaunts her boobs, and a closeted lesbian (Ester Dean). Having heard Beca sing ‘Titanium’ (by David Guetta) in the bathroom, Chloe convinces her to join the group.
Joining the Treble Makers is Jesse (Skylar Astin), who also interns with Beca and has a huge crush on her. With practice spots like the riff-offs, where they improve songs based in choices on a board, and traveling to colleges, the only thing that matters to Aubrey is returning to nationals and winnings. That includes imposing strict rules like not changing the same outdated song list and not dating any member of the Treble Makers. When Beca tries to change tradition, it puts her friendships at risk and the team from achieving their goals.
While the ending is predictable, what works is the chemistry among the girls and the music. Everyone can look at this film and admit to themselves that they can sing at least one note of a song. Kendrick, who was nominated for ‘Up in the Air’ is part of the ‘Twilight’ franchise, can actually sing. When she sings ‘No Diggity’ and the Bellas do the mashup of “Just the Way You Are (Amazing)/Just a Dream,” it feels fresh and lively. Some may say that it sounds better than the original.
Along with color commentators, played by John Michael Higgins and co-producer Elizabeth Banks, the scene stealer has to go to Rebel Wilson. For everything she does takes the film to another level. While she was poorly miscast in ‘The Bachelorette,’ she provides the right balance of comedy that’s needed in what could have been a straight-to-DVD film.
In the end, ‘Pitch Perfect’ hits the right notes that will satisfy not just music fans of the songs, but anyone who wants to have an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
Clip – The Bellas remix “Just the Way You Are”