Based on the first book by Mickey Rapkin, The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, Pitch Perfect centres on the world of making music “with just your mouth”. Beca (Anna Kendrick) is starting at Barden University and she ideally wants to go to LA and become a DJ. Whilst she is constantly attached to her laptop mixing tracks, her father wants her to break away and actually get some life experience first. He feels she is too lonely and tends to push people away. Much to Beca’s dismay she agrees and goes searching for a place she can belong.
Elsewhere on campus all female a capella group, The Bellas are trying to find new recruits. The older members have now left and new blood is needed on the sing floor. After a rather embarrassing entry at the previous year’s final, The Bellas need to get their game faces on and find members who will win. The Bellas have a reputation for not only being full of some of the hottest girls at university, but also singing songs from the same repertoire year after year. That is all about to change. With new faces not following the usual “Bella” look, a head to head with the all-male a capella group, The Treble-Makers and a need for a new sound this will be The Bellas’ hardest challenge of all.
Pitch Perfect is enjoyable from the beginning until the end. The cast, including Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow (Chloe) and Rebel Wilson as “Fat Amy”, hit all the right notes in this school-based comedy focused around the competitive world of a capella singing. Think of Bridesmaids at University with singing and you get the tone of the humour in this film. Rebel Wilson (from Bridesmaids and What to Expect When You’re Expecting) is a pure delight as many of her scenes and lines seem so natural you almost wonder whether she was given the freedom to improvise the whole time. There are some very cringe-worthy scenes but not in the negative sense. They work perfectly with the story and, if anything, only make you laugh out loud more. The mix of characters in The Bellas really steers this film into its glory.
To be in such a film you need to be able to sing and fortunately this cast can. The vocal performances are fantastic and the scenes, particularly where Beca (Kendrick) is trying to work in mash-ups of other songs, are great to listen to. The riff-off is one of the best scenes in the film as it’s where all the a capella groups from Barden have a sing battle – it’s funny and will get you foot-tapping. Brittany Snow is no stranger to singing after already appearing in Hairspray and her character Chloe is a great addition as she finds out that her singing future might be in jeopardy. The real surprises here are Kendrick and Wilson. Kendrick’s voice is great and she is perfectly cast as Beca, giving that sense of innocence, intelligence and eye-rolling sarcasm. Her performance of a song simply listed on the soundtrack as “Cups” for her Bella audition piece is truly impressive. Wilson explores her character with gusto, and that includes her singing. She isn’t as strong as the other members like Kendrick and Snow, but that is only marginal and what she lacks is covered by her performance.
The sub-plot romance of Beca and Treble-Maker Jesse (Skylar Astin) is a perfect addition to the story. Some might think it’s not needed or is perhaps too obvious, but it helps us understand Beca’s character. Astin is a brilliant singer and all the ladies in the audience will love a man who can sing and dance.
There are so many reasons why Pitch Perfect is a brilliant film that it would hard to explain them all here without giving too much away. If you want a film to make you laugh like Bridesmaids, feel grossed out like Superbad and something that makes you want to get up and sing like Grease then Pitch Perfect ticks all these boxes over and over again.
Best performances: Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson.
Best scene: The riff-off.
Best line: “ You guys are gonna get pitch slapped so hard, your man boobs are gonna concave.” – Fat Amy
Pesky Pig: One of the categories shown during the riff-off is Songs Ruined by Glee.