By the time the ending of Pitch Perfect rolls by, you can just about guess that one day, this will make it to the stage as a musical. After all, it has all the necessary ingredients for a more up close and personal experience, with a zero to hero story, great songs that can be changed each time it's staged (and keeping it fresh of course), and characters that are feel good, funny, with nary a villain just opponents battling it out for the top prize in a capella singing.
Directed by Jason Moore, who cut his teeth in Broadway and at the helm of his debut feature film, here's something that had the battle of tradition bubbling beneath it, dealing with adaptability to change rather than sticking with the old that can only get you so far at times. And it can be applicable to any field, because while it may be OK to embrace tradition, sometimes sticking to the same old doesn't produce results when others have already moved along with the times, and developed key changes to put them ahead.
For the Baden College Bellas, the all girl a capella group that finally made it to the finals of a competition amongst college peers, they literally choked up, and find a new school year being their year of redemption, if only they can recruit new blood. Leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) and her lieutenant Chloe (Brittany Snow) eventually do so, with a riff raff of college freshies who make it through the auditions, before finally find it an uphill battle to try and convince them to do things the original, strait-jacketed way. It's typical of a zero to hero that the Japanese have perfected in their similarly themed films, where a motley bunch have to unite to achieve a common goal, but having to battle internally first before they can do so with others, personified in their college rival, the all male team calling themselves Treble Makers.
Anna Kendrick has top billing for headlining the freshman group, starring as Beca, an aloof girl whose interest lies in mixing music and aspiring to become a club DJ. Skylar Astin gets thrown into the mix as the newcomer to the Treble Makers, who also tries his best to hit on Beca, if not for her rejection of his advances. Yes, this is as rote a development of a relationship between the two, especially when the Bellas have a sticky no-dating-of-Trebles rule that didn't make too much headway in the film.
While the many caricatures in the Bellas have some of the funniest lines and scenes, perhaps it is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy who stood out the most, since she exhibited perfect comic timing with her performance, and is very much self-deprecating for the most parts. What's more, coupled with an awesome voice and great stage presence, she steals everyone's thunder in the movie, and is undoubtedly one of, if not, the favourite with everyone who had come to watch this. Her performance is probably the only thing you'll remember, besides the musical arrangements, days after you've watched this movie.
Loosely based on Mickey Rapkin's non fiction book of the same name, which had the writer spend significant time exploring the real world of college a capella singing, Pitch Perfect boasts an almost insightful look at the squabbles and rivalry amongst members, especially when ego and distractions come into play. The story has its usual college student angst, with laugh out loud comedy peppered all around that makes it fun especially when things aren't taken too seriously. But what made this movie about a capella singing work, is exactly a capella singing and the performances themselves. Credit goes to the music producers of Ed Boyer and Deke Sharon from real a capella communities to know just about what works, and what doesn't, and to design a formidable set list for the film, ranging from the bland (deliberate for the Bellas robotic, lacklustre show), to the mind-blowing mash up of genres that begs listening to.
Oh, and those who have not watched The Breakfast Club, too bad that this film will spoil it for you with the ending literally highlighted time and again. Pitch Perfect may not be perfect given a rather straight-forward narrative, but it's the showcase of songs, and individual performances, that makes it a champ. A definite recommendation!