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  Pitch Perfect Acapella Accolade
Year: 2012
Director: Jason Moore
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Shelley Regner, Caroline Fourmy, Nicole Lovince, Adam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Genre: Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Last college year, there was a mishap in the big acapella contest staged between universities, or at least there was for the Barden Bellas, the sole all-female singing group in the running. Their main rivals were from their college, the Treblemakers, an all-male group who had won before and would win again, and they were all too pleased never to allow anyone to forget it with their lively stage presence and unerring talent for judging the perfect tune for the form. But the Bellas truly thought they had a chance, and went onstage performing an old Ace of Bass number - fine until leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) projectile vomited from nerves.

It was a mark of how successful Pitch Perfect was in the manner it threw as many types of joke into the mix as they could possibly think up, that almost all of them generated a genuine laugh, and even the smaller gags were amusing. Although you could dismiss it as a cynical attempt to do for acapella what Bring It On did for cheerleading, which in a way was absolutely accurate, it resembled more the crowdpleasing plot of Strictly Ballroom, an even older cult hit which adopted a similarly "uncool" activity and blessed it with a great story to tell set in its environment of rivalries and rebellion from the agreed norms of the contest.

So what you had here was a sort of jocks versus nerds campus comedy, only the jocks and nerds were essentially engaged in the same pasttime, and in some cases on the same team. Into the Bellas' failure last time around comes the grumpy Beca (Anna Kendrick, showing off a set of pipes in much the same way she did in the small time but curiously influential and enduring Camp almost ten years earlier) who just wants to be a DJ in Los Angeles, except her father has enrolled her at the university he teaches at because he doesn't believe that's a serious occupation. So she sullenly goes through the motions there, except that what do you know? Somehow she is persuaded to try out for the Bellas.

Predictability wasn't an issue here, it was flippin' obvious from the first few scenes how this would play out, but if they were all working to a template of how such entertainments go, the filmmakers achieved a vivacious quality which was infectious, and a lot of that was down to two elements: the script and the casting. Kay Cannon was on writing duties, a veteran of excellent sitcom 30 Rock and following in Tina Fey's Mean Girls footsteps, adapting a book by Mickey Rapkin, and puttiing her experience to fine use. Then there were the actresses who constituted the Bellas, perhaps a little self-consciously making up a team of misfits as if Pitch Perfect was yearning to be sports movie, but making up for it in laughs.

Although Kendrick was ostensibly the star, she generously gave way to her ensemble, which included the breakout talent from the previous year's Bridesmaids Rebel Wilson as the loudmouthed Fat Amy (as she calls herself), apparently offered free rein to improvise as many quips as she could possibly think up. Also making a good impression were Anna Camp as the super-controlling leader, Brittany Snow as her righthand woman who begins to see Beca's innovations as their key to success, songwriter Ester Dean as the girl with a secret, Hana Mae Lee as the girl whose voice barely rises above a whisper, and so on. Skylar Astin played the love interest for Beca, helping her understand that she'll shut everyone out if she continues to act too cool for school, or anything in fact, though he does this by winning her over to the charms of The Breakfast Club. I'm here to tell you: this is a far better movie than that, as nobody has to sell out and its manipulation is entirely hard won and welcome. With excellent harmonising of songs old and new and a great line in giggles, Pitch Perfect was proof the right formula could work wonders in the right hands.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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