Pitch Perfect is nothing less than pitch perfect. Write it off as a Glee parody if you want, but it joins The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Perks of Being a Wallflower as one of the best movies I have seen this year.
Pitch Perfect is a complete and total cinematic joy. It will remind you of the reason many of us love the movie theater, and it simply can’t be missed.
It is provocative, challenging, inspirational and wildly funny. Though it is bound to appeal to both men and women, I can’t believe that there is a thoughtful young female who won’t wrap their arms around this film with a reverence that literally has no definitive equal.
What makes Pitch Perfect even more spectacular is the simple fact that it centers on collegiate a capella contests dueling for supremacy on a national level. And don’t be one of those poor souls who believes that this music is mindlessly unappealing. More to the point, male and female groups are competing against each other, and the talent displayed is as amusing as it is genuinely enthralling.
The leaders of the respective groups are delightfully smug beyond words. Anna Camp plays Aubrey, the Gestapo-like organizer of the female group called The Bellas, and she is one nasty, although admittedly attractive, woman. Imagine a female version of Vince Lombardi and you have a pretty good picture.
The champion male group, known as the Treble Makers, is headed by Adam DeVine, known as Bumper. He is an egotistical dick, as insufferable as he is talented, and there is no question that he and Ms. Camp fulfill the role of delicious villains.
Anna Kendrick makes her appearance as a freshman with an attitude. Reluctantly embracing college, she views nearly everyone associated with the singing groups with thinly veiled contempt. In the end, she only joins the Bellas to gain the support of a professor father for whom she harbors a barely concealed disdain.
What follows from this point on deals with Ms. Kendrick’s gradual evolvement into a woman who cares. This is a young actress with incredible talent as she has previously demonstrated as the voice of Courtney Babcock, the self-centered sister of the young star of ParaNorman; her recurring role as Jessica in the regrettable Twilight series; and her unforgettable role as Natalie Keener, George Clooney’s alter ego in the marvelous Up in the Air (2009).
In this film, she reluctantly joins the playful competition between the two competing male/female groups both on and off stage, and every scene is as edgy as it is bawdy. It is also diabolically clever at every turn, and I couldn’t possibly do it justice even if I tried to repeat some of Ms. Kendrick’s many major contributions.
However, there are literally some great supporting performances across the board from this phenomenal cast, and it begins with Rebel Wilson. Playing an overweight Australian student by the name she embraces, Fat Amy, she literally dominates every scene where she appears. She embraces her name with no shame, knowing that if she didn’t say it, the “twig girls” would behind her back.
In addition, to paraphrase one of her many golden moments, she is approached by Bumper and the following is a rough repetition of what occurs:
Bumper: Don’t you think we should kiss?
Fat Amy: Well, I once thought it would be a good idea to take crystal meth, but I suspected that would be regrettable also.
You will love this woman.
Clearly, Rebel Wilson’s creation of Fat Amy is nothing less than a cinematic darling. Women on the screen who have been overweight have generally been approached with a bit of cinematic condescension. Think of Hattie McDaniel as Mammy, who remained perennially single in Gone with the Wind (1939); Mama Cass Elliott of the singing group, “The Mamas and the Papas,” who publicly lived in the same fashion; and Melissa McCarthy in last year’s Bridesmaids, who was genuinely funny despite the bathroom scenes, but at least was given a love interest.
Pitch Perfect crosses multiple boundaries as you watch it, not the least of which pertains to Fat Amy. She is funny in every respect, including her confrontation of a suspected gay member of her singing group. She literally proves that you don’t have to be some “twig girl” to be not only sexy but attractive.
In addition, there are some wildly hysterical moments provided by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the TV analysts who cover the national a capella competition. They are brutal, sardonic, occasionally horribly condemning of each other, and yet provide moments that are wildly madcap by any definition. While Pitch Perfect would have ultimately survived without them, they are a gift from the Gods when it comes to its colossal success.
But as with all great films, the performances don’t stop there. Skylar Astin does a great job of playing Jesse, an eventual member of the Treble Makers who is also attracted to Ms. Kendrick’s Becca. While initially appearing as some forgettable dipshit, he finds great range as the film proceeds.
You should also look for the performance of Brittany Snow as the red-headed Chloe, second in command of the Bellas. She won’t dare challenge her fearless leader, but she starts to find strength when her voice weakens.
This is an adorable film for completely unadorable reasons, and its ultimate success rests upon the simple fact that it is both wildly tantalizing and a laugh out loud joy. Years ago, Clint Eastwood appeared in Sergio Leone’s last contribution to his western trilogy entitled The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). You could safely say that this same description applies to Pitch Perfect, except for the fact that you literally fall in love with everyone.
Look, I am fully aware that many of you have to dance with my movie appraisals when deciding which films to see. Let me just say that last weekend was extraordinary for me, as I saw a marvelous trilogy, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Liberal Arts and Pitch Perfect. I know I was wiped out by a motorcycle last October 17th, but how can a man with a brain injury be wrong? See this movie, and realize why I welcome you to my cinematic madhouse.