Tis the season for movie musicals. Well, sort of. Rock of Ages, Footloose, and even Sparkle have all come and gone without much notice. And now we have Pitch Perfect, a teeny bopper movie with a sharp tongue and agile mind that brings together the Glee fan coalition of girls, gays, and music fanatics who like to hear their Top 40 hits reinvented and recrooned by young Hollywood. Like a lot of musicals, Pitch Perfect is set in college, which means there will be lots of insecurity, secret crushes, and name calling. This is especially true of this movie which tells the story of a group of offbeat nerd girls in the fictional Barden U.
The mayhem starts when an all-female a cappella group called The Bellas are on the lookout for new blood to help them beat their male counterparts who are reigning Nationals champions (why are these poor kids always subject to so much auditioning?). Their leader is a snarky blonde named Aubrey (Anna Camp) who snares a great-singer-but-too-shy freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) into joining the group. Beca’s real passion is to be a music producer, but she’s relented to join the scary world of academia at the behest of her professor father. Rounding out the group are the fatty (Rebel Wilson), geisha-ish Asian girl (Hanna Mae Lee), and butch black girl (Ester Dean) who gets confused for a boy on an almost constant basis.
As this is a musical about young adults crooning their way through college, there isn’t much in terms of plot. I didn’t count more than seven minutes between any of the movie’s musical numbers, which is both a good and bad thing. The movie scores for its sense of humor (it’s penned by 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon) which it unleashes cleverly in both song and speech at regular intervals. Marking the directorial debut of Avenue Q stage maestro Jason Moore, this just might the big screen musical that finally gets mainstream audiences to sing along and pay for privilege of doing so.