Having sprung from a fan base of Gleeks and High School Musical groupies, a musical about a college freshman joining an a cappella group to improve her social standing (and pick up cute guys) is a sure-fire hit.
And in many ways Pitch Perfect a new musical comedy from 30 Rock screenwriter Kay Cannon, deserves the success it will achieve.
Anna Kendrick (50/50, Up in the Air) plays Beca, a wannabe DJ that makes mash-ups in her bedroom, but is too shy to make friends. By joining the Bellas, an all-female singing group, she agrees to sing their old fashioned tunes at championship level, but longs to use some of her musical skills to get them to the top.
The Bellas are headed up by Aubrey (played by Anna Camp, who coincidentally appeared in Glee), a girl with so much blonde ambition she could beat Regina George at her own game. Her sidekick is Chloe (Brittany Snow, who already proved her musical credentials in Hairspray) and new members Fat Amy (Australian comic Rebel Wilson) and soulful Cynthia Rose (R&B singer Ester Dean).
With a collection of both familiar faces and newcomers to the screen, Pitch Perfect should be a pleasure to watch, but what’s missing between all the (admittedly catchy) musical interludes is any quality acting or original storytelling. Anna Kendrick, who performed to Oscar nomination standard in Up in the Air, here looks bland and one-dimensional. Even the comedy, which was tipped to be thoroughly stomach crunching, is all a bit too obvious and slapstick.
There’s also something slightly nauseating about hosepipe sick scenes. You know the ones I mean. Maybe you first saw it in the pie eating contest in Stand By Me, or maybe it was the exploding Mr. Creosote in Monty Python, but movies featuring projectile vomiting are becoming increasingly acceptable in the public eye and I just can’t stomach it. Pitch Perfect relies a little too much on its characters’ gag reflexes than on comic acting.
That being said, Rebel Wilson is a delight to watch, as are the singing competition judges played by Elizabeth Banks (also a producer) and John Michael Higgins, who together with Wilson rescue Pitch Perfect from being entirely predictable.
If you love Glee, Bring it On or even Mean Girls, you may be totally taken with this pop musical, but otherwise you will probably find it all a bit recycled and one-note.