Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Pitch Perfect, dir. Jason Moore, scr. Kay Cannon, based on Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin, st. Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Adam DeVine, Ben Platt, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks

Before making his film directorial debut with Pitch Perfect, Jason Moore cut his teeth on Broadway as resident director for Les Misérable, and as much as I'm a fan of Schönberh and Boublil's acclaimed work, it doesn't half put you through the mill with its incessant onslaught of melodrama and never-ending roll-call of audition songs. It's something of a relief then to find a musical such as Pitch Perfect, that whips through a variety of multi-genre songs that individually never outstay their welcome, and comprising a plot so ultra-lo-cal as to merely serve as dramatic interludes between the numbers. I know that sounds derogatory but it really isn't meant to be. Aspiring DJ Beca Mitchell (Kendrick) would rather create mash-ups on her Mac than attend college, however, on joining the University's all-female a cappella group the Barden Bellas - building up a new team from scratch comprising 'alternative' but talented misfits as the trope goes - she finds a movement that addresses her musical sensibilities as well as her social insecurities as well as a token boyf along the way in the form of rival group member Jesse Swanson (Astin). What Pitch Perfect lacks in substance, it makes up in polished (über-produced and mimed) performance with a roster of song-types that feel at once cohesive and multi-demographic-appealing without the "everything and see what sticks" mentality. There's a limit, as talented as Rebel Wilson undoubtedly is, to how many fat jokes one can - or indeed feel one should - laugh at, and there are too many gags that lack the strength of their conviction, but there are some gems too - Hana Mae Lee's Lilly Onakuramara - a Bella member who's perpetually barely audible - is a gift that keeps on giving, and Kendrick is, as ever, a great joy to watch. For all its faults, Pitch Perfect is just the kind of fluff that's an easy and engaging watch without the taxation or trauma.