Movie Musical “Pitch Perfect” fits the bill (Review)

A-capella singing has come a long way since the dorky days of “a capella glee club” which most of us remember from our college years…riding the wave of popular tv-competitions, Glee, as well as the stellar success of the Indiana University Men’s “Straight No Chaser”, along comes the very entertaining “Pitch Perfect”.

Starring Anna Kendrick (here shown with new-hottie-on-the-block Skylar Astin (Spring Awakening), the movie follows the basic storyline of all such musicals: out-of-her-element college girl finds a girl-group a-capella singing group she likes, is pursued by boy-she-isn’t-sure-she-likes and by the end has found musical success and a new boyfriend. Forget the story — see this for the music, the great chemistry between the actors, and the (for the most part) live performances.

Written by 30-Rock screenwriter Kay Cannon, and directed by Jason Moore (Avenue Q), the show rocks more than a few Broadway folks in the show. Astin himself originated Georg in Spring Awakening. You’ll recognize plenty of Broadway folks in the different ensembles that make up the competing a-cappella teams. Rebel Wilson turns in a superb performance as “Fat Amy” and brings most of the laughs to the affair, but Cannon’s very witty screenplay supplies enough humor to keep the movie rolling from scene to scene. Particularly funny is the banter between Elizabeth Banks and Michael Higgins doing the “play by play” at the competitions — in fact, its so funny that lines often get cut off because you are still laughing from the previous line. Think 30-Rock at its absolute best — you know, the scenes you rewind on your DVR and write down the dialogue its that good.

But what makes the whole thing work is the musical numbers. Arranged by a-capella kings Deke Sharon, Ed Boyer, Ben Bram and others, the songs are perfectly performed (and, yes, to some degree autotuned, though it sounds better here than it does on most episodes of Glee). But the staging is real, the production numbers pop, and the competitions feel very real. Look out cheerleading competitions, you might have met your modern-day match.

In a fall season so far lacking much in the world of musical comedy, you can place a sure bet on Pitch Perfect. Go, have fun, eat popcorn, and don’t think too hard. Enjoy the show for what it is, and don’t be surprised if it (or a similar incarnation) finds its way onto the Broadway stage pretty darn soon.


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