A surprisingly smart take on the potentially clichéd 'songs & starlets' material
While the Glee concert movie proved to be a surprise flop last year, the idea of packaging up chart songs and glamorous teenage starlets has been a Hollywood trope since the advent of sound. The latest effort, Pitch Perfect, is a simple enough piece of work, but by a happy combination of talents proves to be a lively crash-course in pop culture ephemera.
Having provided a welcome burst of sardonic humour as Bella’s pal in the Twilight franchise, Anna Kendrick takes centre-stage as Beca, an aspiring DJ who takes it upon herself to inject some pizazz into The Bellas, an all female a cappella group who specialize in such dated fodder as Ace of Base’s 'The Sign'. A growing romance with Jesse (Skylar Astin) encourages Beca to push her new girlfriends onto greater things, namely through riff-offs against the boyband that Jesse sings with. But pride comes before a fall, and Beca’s cocksure approach leads to a fall from grace that only a pitch-perfect climactic performance can resolve.
The presence of Bridesmaids’ Rebel Wilson as a character called Fat Amy suggests the vulgar worst about Pitch Perfect, but director Jason Moore, who won a Tony award on Broadway for the irreverent puppet musical Avenue Q, offers a surprisingly smart take on the potentially clichéd material. Working from a script by Tina Fey’s regular 30 Rock scribe, Kay Cannon, Moore fashions an enjoyably lightweight jukebox of recent pop hits, leavened with the kind of girly smarts that Fey brought to genre classic Mean Girls. And Kendrick and Wilson have the right kind of sass to entertain; they may not be as glamorous as the kids in Glee, but in Pitch Perfect, they seem like the girls who are having all the fun.
General release from Fri 21 Dec.