Even Glee Haters Will Love Pitch Perfect
- Friday, October 05, 2012
DVD Release Date: December 18, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: September 28, 2012 in select cities; October 5 wide.
Rating: PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references
Run Time: 112 min
Director: Jason Moore
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Anna Camp, Ben Platt
Singing and dancing competition shows have been pop culture staples for a over decade now and have spawned fictionalized variations as well (Glee and Step Up, most notably). I’ve never been a fan of any of them. Not even remotely. I don’t mean to be a hater but, well, they actually kind of annoy me.
Suffice it to say, I am in no way the target demographic for the new a capella teen comedy Pitch Perfect, which is essentially Glee: The College Years. But I’m not stupid, either. I know a sleeper hit when I see one, and Pitch Perfect is going to be a word-of-mouth sensation.
A movie built to succeed in the social media age, Pitch Perfect is the kind of crowd-pleaser that will inspire repeat viewings, girls' nights out, and go-to comfort watching on DVD. I’ve heard this level of laughter from preview audiences before (though never more so), but I can’t remember any time I’ve heard this much applause throughout. Audiences are going to eat this up, and those who love it will looooooooooove it. Their gushing OMGosh hyperbole will know no end.
There seems to be something ingeniously calculating (and I mean that as a compliment) about Pitch Perfect. It draws inspiration from the aforementioned song-related shows as well as cruel teen satires like Mean Girls, yet somehow ends up being the best of all those inspirations while dispensing with the more bitter and melodramatic excesses.
Sure, Pitch Perfect has an occasionally crude edge to go with its share of drama but it never feels mean-spirited. It avoids pretense, and is even a bit self-effacing. While by no means family-friendly, it’s certainly distinct in being the rare contemporary teen comedy that pushes PG-13 boundaries rather than the all-out gratuituous raunch of R-rated ones. It has sex-related slang, dialogue and humor but is not sex-obsessed, and the gross-outs are mostly limited to a few moments of projectile vomiting (and even those serve a plot purpose).
The setup is straightforward: the fictional Barden University is the "It" campus for vocalists, boasting not one but two of the national finalist a cappella groups (along with other aspiring ones): the all-female Barden Bellas and the all-male reigning champs The Treblemakers. At Barden, the Glee Club nerds are the cool kids, not the jocks.
Beca (Anna Kendrick, The Twilight Saga) is a surly freshman who’d rather be DJ-ing out in Hollywood but is reluctantly taking advantage of the free ride provided by her Barden professor father. In an attempt to give college a chance, Beca agrees to join the Barden Bellas in their quest for redemption at the A Capella Nationals.
The Bellas are a typical hodgepodge of character types. There’s the Type-A control freak perfectionist leader, the all-American pretty girl, the sexpot, the African-American (also lesbian), an Asian who can barely be heard (while saying comically-disturbing things), and Beca’s jaded hipsterism. There’s also the comic relief fat girl (a scene-stealing Rebel Wilson, Bachelorette), but her self-ascribed nickname "Fat Amy" defines a nature that confidently owns who she is, as does the charm of her no-nonsense wit.
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