Pitch Perfect

Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 00:00

Directed by Jason Moore. Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Alexis Knapp, Skylar Astin 12A cert, general release, 112 min

This entertaining musical finds time to pay copious tribute to John Hughes’s faux-subversive 1980s drama The Breakfast Club. So cosy is Pitch Perfect that it makes the Hughes film seem like some radical 16mm effusion of the Marxist underground.

Riding the Glee riptide, Pitch Perfect sets itself in the peculiar world of competitive a cappella singing. You know how these things go. Anna Kendrick plays a supposedly rebellious teenager (she has more than one ear piercing) who arrives at university with plans to make no friends and attend few lectures.

For reasons that never entirely stack up, Kendrick gets drawn into the most prim, least flexible of the college’s singing societies. They have just lost a national final, but seem unable to get out of their conservative rut: milder Ace of Base covers blend into milder versions of Bangles tunes.

Never fear. Before the close Anna will have introduced them to the radical, hip new stylings of, erm, Jessie J and Bruno Mars. Mind you don’t frighten the horses, Anna.

So, yes, there are things to whinge about here. (John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks, playing commentators on the live shows, seem to have lifted their schtick unaltered from Best in Show.) But Pitch Perfect proves impossible to resist.

The consistently excellent actors take a slightly underpowered script and kick it into something worth singing about. The smashing Rebel Wilson, still coasting on the acclaim from her cameo in Bridesmaids, has great fun with a lively Antipodean who – to beat frat girls to the punch – refers to herself throughout as Fat Amy.Brittany Snow and Anna Camp bring a degree of sympathy to the posh rulers of the campus.

The film is, however, all about the big numbers. No sane person could accuse the film-makers of being stingy on the cheese. No tune is rejected for being too obvious. As a result, the medleys are all the easier to sing along to. Great fun.