Pitch Perfect

© 2012 Ray Wong

Pitch Perfect

The pitch for Pitch Perfect is rather straightforward: High School Musical or Glee set in college. Of course, there is no such thing as original idea anymore; it all depends on the execution. In that regard, Pitch Perfect is just about average.

Beca (Ann Kendrick) is a Freshman at Barden College, at which her father teaches as a professor. She reluctantly enrolls so her father will bankroll her dream to move to LA later to become a music producer. And reluctantly she joins an all-girl a cappella group called Bella, run by two perky upperclassmen named Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Aubrey (Anna Camp). Desperate to regroup after a disastrous season at the national championship finals, Chloe and Aubrey recruit a group of misfits including independent Bella, outgoing Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), sexpot Stacey (Alexis Knapp), and mousy Lilly (Hana Mae Lee).

At first, Beca does not really care -- she is just buying her time so she can get out and move to LA. But then she gets attached to her mates. Furthermore, she has met fellow Freshman and singer Jesse (Skylar Astin), a preppy guy who is earnest to a fault. Beca can't be more different than any of them, but somehow she finds herself fitting in. In fact, she starts to really enjoy herself in the competitions, and realizes she can use her musical talent to help her teammates.

However, Aubrey runs the group with a tight fist. She is so strung out about making it to the finals that she won't listen to any advice. Competing against the all-boy group The Troublemakers, headlined by cocky Bumper (Adam DeVine), Bella is in disarray. Beca must decide to stay and be humiliated publicly, or leave her friends behind.

Anna Kendrick (End of Watch) got her big break playing a rookie in George Clooney's Up in the Air. As a quirky, indifferent college Freshman, she is cute yet detached, smart but quiet. Yet she's not too quiet to disappear in her role. Still, at one point I'd like for her to be tougher -- even though she is a free spirit, she appears to be rather passive, often in the background. Skylar Astin (Taking Woodstock) is sweet and charming as Jesse -- perhaps a little too sweet and earnest.

Adam DeVine (TRON: Uprising) is good at being cocky and obnoxious, but in a funny way. Brittany Snow (Petunia) is perky as friendly Chloe, and Anna Camp (The Help) is perfectly stuck up as Aubrey. The standout is Rebel Wilson (Struck by Lightning) as outragoues, uncensored Fat Amy.

Written by Kay Cannon (30 Rock) and Mickey Rapkin, the screenplay follows a rather standard arc: we meet the heroine and hero, then we meet the cast of oddball characters, and then we put them in various situations and make fun of them. Some of the scenes are quite funny, thanks to the talented actors. The jokes can be a bit sophomoric and tiresome (how much can we laugh at vomiting, really?) Still, the energetic cast and the cheery tone of the story help lift the movie to become entertaining. There is a certain feel-good quality to it that you can't help but root for the characters, even though a lot of it is cliched and predictable.

Jason Moore (Brothers & Sisters) comes from TV, and at times it shows in his direction. Over all, it is a tight ship and the pacing is good. At times, though, you feel the energy slacking and some of the production values not up to par. The movie feels uneven at times. Still, Moore is able to capture the youthful gleefulness and the friendships that are so unique in the college setting. The musical numbers are catchy and generally well thought out, with a few exceptions.

The trailers of Pitch Perfect were hilarious. So in a way I feel that the actual movie doesn't quite live up to the promise. Yet it is still entertaining, and the actors all pitch in to make it a fun time. It's in no way pitch perfect, but it's a decent diversion.

Stars: Ann Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee
Director: Jason Moore
Writer: Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin
Distributor: Universal
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 for sexual material, language, and drug references
Running Time: 112 minutes 


Script - 7
Performance - 7
Direction - 7
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 8
Editing - 7
Production - 7

Total - 7.5 out of 10.0 

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