Movie review: 'Pitch Perfect' hits notes sour and sweet
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"Pitch Perfect" is not. Pitch perfect, that is.
It seems like a mashup of stage play and reality TV show, borrows from other movies (down to the "Best in Show" type commentators and "Step Up" rivalry) and features Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin as a potential couple, but they have zero chemistry. Plus, there are not one but two scenes with projectile vomiting played for laughs.
The music is fun, even if there's too much of it, and Aussie native Rebel Wilson emerges as the breakout star. One of Kristen Wiig's roommates in "Bridesmaids" and the bride in "Bachelorette," Ms. Wilson here plays "Fat Amy." She calls herself that, figuring she'll beat the skinny twigs to the punch.
2.5 stars = Average
- Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson.
- Rating: PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references.
Ms. Wilson brings the necessary note of zaniness to a movie about the cutthroat world of college music competitions featuring a cappella singing groups. Who knew?
Turns out Mickey Rapkin, author of "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory," whose book found its way to producing partners Elizabeth Banks and her husband, Max Handelman. Ms. Banks joins John Michael Higgins as commentators at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella or ICCAs.
But, in the hands of director Jason Moore, a Tony nominee for "Avenue Q" and "Shrek the Musical," and screenwriter Kay Cannon (TV's "New Girl"), it rarely hits or sustains the high notes.
It has father-daughter conflict; reluctant songbird Beca (Ms. Kendrick), who really wants to move to LA and produce music; the control-freak leader of an all-female group, The Bellas, and the inevitable fight for its soul and direction; budding romance between Beca and Jesse (Mr. Astin), a member of a rival campus outfit; a singer who develops nodes on her vocal cords; and quirky roommates, including one who turns his half of a dorm room into a cliched "Star Wars" shrine.
The Bellas, who bizarrely dress like sexy stewardesses from the 1970s, have lovely voices and are played by Ms. Kendrick, Ms. Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and Ester Dean, among others. They are consistently criticized for their safe choice of music, which means they perform some songs more than once but rally by the end.
"Pitch Perfect" never allows you to get a sense of how popular a cappella groups are across the country so the march through the national competition means little. Lively, excellent singing is plunked into a mediocre story, and, on stage, that might save the day but it doesn't on screen.
Opens today at Cinemark in Robinson and AMC-Loews, Waterfront.
First Published September 28, 2012 12:00 am