Saturday November 10, 2012
Sing it on
Review by AIDIL RUSLI
This entertaining feel-good flick might just turn out to be this year’s Bridesmaids.
This movie is so hilarious, entertaining and hugely enjoyable that I feel like an ingrate for wishing that it was a better film.
Adapted from Mickey Rapkin’s 2008 book Pitch Perfect: The Quest For Collegiate A Cappella Glory, the movie seems like it was tailor-made to suit this current age of Step Up, Glee, and reality-based talent shows on TV like American Idol and The Voice.
If you’ve already forgotten the Bring It On franchise (which was about cheerleading), you might still get a feeling of deja vu while watching Pitch Perfect, as the plot faithfully follows the teenage-underdogs-go-for-glory template almost to a T.
Then again, though the ingredients are the same, it’s how you cook a dish that makes the difference, and that rings true for this film – there is a strong tinge of freshness to the proceedings despite the overfamiliarity of its “ingredients”.
Director Jason Moore, a television veteran (Dawson’s Creek) and director of Broadway’s Avenue Q, does a decent job on his feature film debut, although he is still very much a by-the-numbers guy. He plays it safe throughout the film, even during the musical bits – which I think is a missed opportunity – resulting in the film having a wee bit of a television feel to it visually.
The real star of the film is the laugh-out-loud script by Kay Cannon, a writer for the sitcoms 30 Rock and New Girl, that is filled with shamelessly funny punchlines and jokes. Forget irony, forget satire and definitely forget subtlety – this is one script that just wants to tickle you silly, and succeeds quite admirably.
It tells the story of Beca (Anna Kendrick from Up In The Air and What To Expect When You’re Expecting), a freshman at Barden University who is forced by her father to give university a go when all she wants to do is be a DJ in Los Angeles.
Barden University happens to be the home of two rival a cappella groups – the all-female Bellas and the all-male reigning national champions, the Treblemakers.
An unfortunate gross incident in the previous year’s national finals meant that the Bellas, formerly known for having beautiful members with pitch-perfect vocals, are now social pariahs. Not even “freaks” are willing to join their group this year.
Beca is inevitably recruited by Chloe (Brittany Snow) after hearing her sing David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium in the shower. Alongside uptight group leader Aubrey (Anna Camp), the rest of the Bellas is made up of hilarious caricatures and stereotypes like Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson in what is surely her star-making performance), quiet Asian girl Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and token black lesbian Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean).
While the plot may be predictable – you just know that the Bellas will triumph in the end, after some bumps on the road of course – what truly lifts this movie to sure-fire crowd-pleaser status are the sparklingly spiky performances by the always appealing Kendrick as well as Wilson’s movie-stealing (it’s just not enough to describe it as a “scene-stealing turn”) antics and, in a trick borrowed from Best In Show, the colourful and hugely inappropriate live commentary by John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks).
Then of course, there’s the undoubted pleasure of listening to the a cappella rendition of songs we already love or are, at least, familiar with.
From music by Bruno Mars to Salt ‘N Pepa to Simple Minds, the songs are given not only the a cappella treatment, but also mashed up at certain points in the movie.
If you’re familiar with the TV show The Sing-Off, then you might be slightly disappointed that there’s nothing in this movie as inspiring as some of the renditions belted out by the group Pentatonix (or even Afro Blue, later on) from the programme, but the laughs and the singing in Pitch Perfect will still give you glee.
Bridesmaids for the teenage or college set? I don’t see why not.