Fans of “Glee” and popular singing competitions will dig this high-spirited, youthful comedy romp.
(Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
But anyone who’s ever been bitten by the bug of ultra-competitive college a cappella singing groups, which make all their musical noises vocally, will especially find plenty to like and laugh about.
The real-life campus of Louisiana State University doubles for as the setting of the fictional Barden U. in “Pitch Perfect,” where two rival groups – the all-female Bellas, recovering from an unfortunate presetback, and their male adversaries, the reigning-champion Treblemakers – assemble at the start a new school year.
On the campus teeming with “aca-geeks,” they scout for fresh blood and begin the ramp-up to competition season.
Freshman Bela (Anna Kendrick) isn’t into the singing scene, but when one of the Bellas hears her pitch perfect singing in the shower, she becomes a reluctant recruit.
The petite and perky Kendrick is the movie veteran of the cast, with previous supporting roles in three “Twilight” movies, a critically praised co-starring role aside George Clooney in 2009’s “Up in the Air,” and another movie, “End of Watch,” also in theaters now. At 27, she’s still believable playing a college student.
Brittany Snow, who plays the Bella who discovers Beca, made numerous appearances as a young teenager on the soap opera “Guiding Light,” played the spoiled Amber Van Tussle in “Hairspray” (2007) and had a recurring role on TV’s “Harry’s Law.”
Before becoming control-freak Bella taskmaster Aubrey, Anna Camp had a small role in “The Help,” played Caitlin D’Arcy on TV’s “The Good Wife,” and stirred up a fan base on the series “True Blood,” in addition to appearing in several other roles.
Adam Devine, who struts with cocky over-confidence as the leader of the Treblemakers, will be familiar to viewers of Comedy Central’s hilarious “Workaholics” series.
Elizabeth Banks, one of the movie’s producers, and John Michael Higgins toss off a cascade of snarky aca-zingers as recurring competition commentators.
But, it’s Rebel Wilson who steals the show.
The saucy Aussie stand-up comedian-turned-actress, introduced to American audiences with a small part in the raunchy comedy “Bridesmaids,” truly gets to shine here.
As Fat Amy, she’s a big, bountiful Bella whose generous physical proportions are matched by her gift of knowing how, when and where to sprinkle just the right amount of comedic side-dish seasoning onto any scene or snippet of dialogue.
We get to know the characters and follow them through various subplots, in particular a forbidden romance between Beca and one of the off-limits Treblemakers.
But, the movie really comes alive in the music, a fresh, energetic mash-up of trad and rad that the two groups work up for their performances.
The hip, witty script, by “30 Rock” writer Kay Cannon, is full of feisty fire, and there’s only one real comedic misstep, a running gag of gross-out, puke-tastic messiness that the movie runs into the ground – and smears all over the floor.
Otherwise, “Pitch Perfect” hits a lot of right notes for a movie that only wants to make you laugh, and the young, extremely enthusiastic cast gives this tune-filled tale of competing college crooners a delightfully entertaining spin.