Here’s a sentence I thought I would never write: is Rebel Wilson the new Tom Hardy? Besides the obvious fact that she has a V where he has a P, the cinematic benefit of having either one of them in a movie is the same. If my calculations are correct, every movie is made 73% better by having a) Rebel Wilson in it or b) Tom Hardy. While musical comedy Pitch Perfect may be lacking the Hardy boy, it is packing Wilson. Which. Is. Key. Based on a behind-the-scenes book by Mickey Rapkin on the world of college a capella competitions, Pitch Perfect follows token rebel and aspiring DJ Beca (played by Oscar and Tony nominee Anna Kendrick). Not enthusiastic about participating in college life, she agrees to sign up to the disgraced a capella group The Bellas in an attempt to appease her father. The all-female group – who crashed and burned at the previous year’s national finals due to a projectile vomit incident – are shaking up their look with a more diverse range of members. That includes Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), sassy black lesbian Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean), an Asian Aubrey plaza in Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and slutty McHottie Stacie (Alexis knapp) to name a few. The gals are going up against “the bad boys of a capella” in the Treble Makers who perform hits by ‘musicians’ like Pitbull and Flo Rida. In order to jazz up The Bellas tired routines, Beca wants to “remix this business” and modernise the group so they can go all the way at nationals.
I know what you’re thinking. GLEE! OMG! GLEE! RIP OFF! It’s an easy mistake to make because although both Pitch Perfect and Glee are about misfit singing groups within an education system who sing pop hits, the two concepts are actually quite different (or at least different enough). While Glee proudly places itself in the full-blown musical category with elements of high drama, Pitch Perfect is a straight up comedy with a handful of musical numbers. The film even makes reference to the popular TV show about singing “minorities” in a bid to distance itself. But whether you’re into the toe-tapping variety of entertainment or not, Pitch Perfect is guaranteed to amuse you.
Screenwriter Kay Cannon has an impressive list of credits writing and producing female steered comedy in the form of 30 Rock, New Girl and Baby Mama. It shows here with biting, politically incorrect and choke-on-your-popcorn comedy scattered throughout the film. From comments like “Women are about as good at a capella as they are at being doctors” to Fat Amy’s determined oath “I’m gonna finish him like a cheesecake”, the humour is so wrong it’s right. Much of this is largely thanks to the earnest cast delivering the lines and physical gags with the utmost dedication. It’s testament to how great the rest of the actors are that Rebel Wilson doesn’t steal the show, although she does get all the best lines and those she doesn’t she terms into memorable moments thanks to her improv talent and natural comedic charm. Kendrick does her best with Beca, a character that could be sooo annoying if not for the delivery. The poor lil’ white girl who hasn’t got over her parents divorce and proclaims “You know David Guetta?” as if it’s a revelation and the blonde Frenchy isn’t being played everywhere ever. But you grow to like her and her two dimensions. Producer Elizabeth Banks also pops up as a commentator with John Michael Higgins and the two provide some of the most colourful banter in the film. The males too are great, namely Workaholics Adam DeVine and what’s-his-face from girls Skylar Astin.
Pitch Perfect isn’t, well, perfect as it does have some significant flaws. Mainly, it seems someone involved with the film is a big fan of the underseen and underappreciated dance flick How She Move. The Sundance hit from 2007 starred True Blood’s Rutina Wesley whose character became involved in an off-shoot of conventional street dancing – step (see: an off-shoot of traditional singing – a cappella). The underground competitions were fierce and dominated by male teams (see: the Treble Makers) and the all-female teams struggles in the misogynist environment (see: The Bellas). There’s also a particular dance move performed by the central male team that involves humping the ground/air that the Treble Makers use in exactly the same manner in their performance. Also, anyone who has seen the videos of Kendrick’s Broadway performances as a 12-year old know the girl has mad pipes. So why they get her to do the Dr Dre rap that leads into Blackstreet’s classic No Diggity is nonsensical. It’s like watching a valedictorian try and perform an Eight Mile solo. In the grand scheme of things, minor gripes.
Overall, Pitch Perfect is up there with 21 Jump Street as one of the funniest, freshest and most freakin’ enjoyable comedies of the year.
Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz
Note: Cameos galore! Keep an eye out for Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse and Donald ‘Turk’ Faison
Pitch Perfect is released on the 22nd of November in Australia.