Movie review – Pitch Perfect

20121227-144803.jpgWhile the inspiration for Pitch Perfect is mocked quite mercilessly in the film itself, it’s obvious that it owes a great debt to that TV programme about a singing club in high school. But don’t run away Glee haters, for this is much smarter, much more raucous and much more cutting than that show. It’s more Mean Girls than Glee.

But with singing.

Wait, let me try that again.

It’s like Glee crossed with Mean Girls with every other teen movie cliché thrown in for good measure. That’s not a bad thing by the way.

So while the plot of the film is nothing new (girl goes to college and joins a group of misfits and underdogs and maybe learns something about herself in the process) it’s carried with such wit and whimsy and genuine belly laughs that you’ll forgive the fact that it’s essentially Bring It On but with a capella instead of cheerleading. But plot doesn’t really matter in a film like this given that you know exactly what path it will follow; what you come for are the laughs and the singing. Thankfully both are here in spades. And they’re both great.

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All of the cast give good performances both on stage and off, and every character gets at least one moment to truly shine (usually in song); Anna Kendrick is the straight man for the bulk of the film and has a good line in eye rolling, but isn’t so smug that her switch from snarky to enthusiastic comes off as fake, but it’s Rebel Wilson who steals the whole film with her shameless and fearless Fat Amy. Getting all the best lines that one suspects were all at least semi-improvised, she is the films breakout star. And as the a capella commentators Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins get a lot of mileage of essentially thankless roles. They’re this film’s equivalent to the Dodgeball commentators and end up being memorable despite not being on screen for very long. Most of the other characters are cultural stereotypes (perhaps mirroring the film’s obsession with The Breakfast Club) and don’t get much to beyond be the black lesbian, the promiscuous one or the quiet Asian girl, but they each get their required laughs and as such serve their purpose.

And then there are the songs. All of which are pretty amazing, I must admit. Toe-tappingly, smile inducingly, sing-a-long-ily (?) fantastic. The practice sessions are just as good as the big choreographed numbers and if you’re not at least bobbing your head to some of them then this really isn’t the movie for you. Personally, I could have listened to the ‘riff-off’ all day.

So despite being able to tell EXACTLY how the film is going to play out from the opening riff on the Universal fanfare, it’s nearly two hours of pure unadulterated fun. When people call films ‘fluff’ it’s usually meant as a bad thing; not here. Pitch Perfect is light, hilarious and while not exactly memorable, it’s one of the most fun films of the year.

4 stars

Review by Jonathan Cardwell.

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Post Author: Belfast Times