Movies about high schoolers or college students that are into some sort of dance or singing competition are nothing new. Pioneered by movies like Fame in the 80s, in recent years they have become even more popular with films like the Step Up series, the TV show Glee, and the bevy of reality shows for singing and dancing. So when I approached Pitch Perfect, I really was expecting more of the same. But Pitch Perfect took me by surprise by being more than the sum of its parts.
Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a freshman at Barden University. Beca is a music fanatic skilled at doing mash ups on her computer and finds herself without a social group to belong to at Barden. After being given an ultimatum by her father, Beca decides to join an a cappella group known as the Barden Bellas who disastrously lost the previous year’s competition and is now having trouble finding members. Beca hopes to bring her talents to the group but faces stiff resistance from the group leader Aubrey (Anna Camp). Now teamed with an unusual group of misfits, Beca starts to find her place and find a few friends along the way.
While there are many typical parts within Pitch Perfect, what keeps it from being typical as a whole is the smart and funny writing and the charisma of its excellent cast. Kendrick is adorable as usual, but also very sharp and funny. Rebel Wilson from Bridesmaids had me laughing every time she opened her mouth and Beca’s love interest Skylar Astin, who really hasn’t had a high profile part yet, was great and exhuded a John Krasinski-ish likability. The cast overall was great and all worked well together and the music was actually enjoyable and not at all out of place, it was all left in the context of singing for the competition and story. The humor was very much akin to films like Mean Girls and I think that Pitch Perfect would have worked even better with a harder rating. It felt like it really wanted to go there on a few occasions. And oddly enough, even though the movie is PG-13, in the special features on the Blu-ray there is a Line-O-Rama feature that showcases alternate takes and dialogue that is uncensored and very much rated R. A strange feature to put on a disc intended for a PG-13 audience.
The Blu-ray from Universal is great. A nice clean transfer with great clarity and detail, and most importantly, the soundtrack is bold and clear and perfectly showcases the music element. A surprise of a comedy with great music to boot, Pitch Perfect may become somewhat of a cult hit. Definitely worth checking out.
Available December 18, 2012 on Blu-ray and DVD.