Pitch Perfect — 4 stars
Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson
DIRECTOR JASON MOORE
REVIEW LUCY GIBSON
You’ll like this if you liked Mean Girls, Dodgeball, the TV show Glee
Anna Kendrick’s acting talent is no secret with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognising the feisty 20-something for her breakthrough performance as George Clooney’s uptight colleague in 2009’s Up in the Air.
Yet the Oscar-nominated young actress reminds us of that other string she has to her bow in director Jason Moore’s musical comedy about an all-girls college a cappella group.
Kendrick made her film debut in the 2003 musical comedy Camp and showed off her musical talents again in 2009’s The Marc Pease Experience.
Here she lets rip — or should that be riff — as Beca, a college student who reluctantly joins acoustic singing group the Bellas on the proviso her dad lets her move to Los Angeles to become a DJ.
The group, led by the prissy Aubrey (Anna Camp) and her co-captain (Brittany Snow), is a bunch of misfits still reeling from their humiliating loss at the Nationals the previous year and desperately trying to restore their reputation.
Enter outsider Beca, who takes it upon herself to encourage the girls to break away from their traditional musical arrangements and introduces new mash-ups in a quest to reach the top in college a cappella.
Standing in their way, rival college a cappella groups, including last year’s Nationals champions the Treblemakers, with whom they enjoy Eight Mile-style open-air riff-offs.
It’s these scenes — in particular a Kendrick-led performance of Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are/Nelly’s Just a Dream — which are sure to bring a smile to the faces of even the most cynical cinema-goers (believe me, I saw it happen).
Indeed, Kendrick and the girls’ harmonies and Glee-esque performances are enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
However, equally as scene-stealing is Australian Rebel Wilson who, after popping up in a number of movies in 2012 — including A Few Best Men, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Bachelorette — delivers the performance of her career as Tasmanian “Fat Amy”.
“You call yourself Fat Amy,” Aubrey asks her. “Yeah, so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back,” she responds matter-of-factly.
Wilson, who first came to our attention in last year’s Bridesmaids, kills her role, managing to keep a straight face while delivering such comedy gold lines such as: “You guys are going to get pitch slapped so hard your man boobs are going to concave.”
Heavily underused in the mean-spirited Bachelorette, she is given enough screen time here to leave us wanting more.
Another breakout performance is Hana Mae Lee, who not only has one of the quirkiest roles of the year as the quietly spoken (make that almost inaudible) Lily who also has the pleasure in delivering the most bizarre line in a film this year: “I ate my twin in the womb.”
Pitch Perfect’s plot is fairly predictable — although Beca’s forbidden romance with Treblemaker Jessie (Skylar Astin) is really quite sweet — and it would have been nice to see a few more riff-offs.
However, the left-field humour in Pitch Perfect is laugh-out-loud funny and the performances from the entire cast — including co-producer Elizabeth Banks who is hilarious as a commentator — are hard to fault.
Musical comedies may not be everyone’s cup of tea but this one hits all the right notes.
Pitch Perfect opens today.