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Sing along with Pitch Perfect'

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Film explores the world of competitive a cappella

Anyone who has been on a college campus has seen them. Or heard them, anyway. They are enclaves of a unique brand of music nerd.

They are a cappella singing groups.

These groups write their own arrangements of popular songs, not only singing the lyrics, but also creating melody and rhythm using nothing but their voices. They're usually cheesy as all get out, but no less enjoyable because of that.

And now there's a movie about them.

'Pitch Perfect' focuses on the a cappella music scene (yes, there's a whole scene) at fictional Barden University. A fierce rivalry exists between the Barden Bellas an all-female group and the males-only Treblemakers. Due to an embarrassing incident at last year's Nationals (yep, there are Nationals), Bellas leader Aubrey (Anna Camp, 'The Help) and her sidekick Chloe (Brittany Snow, '96 Minutes') have to rebuild the entire roster.

Enter Becca (Anna Kendrick, 'End of Watch'), an angsty new girl who wants nothing more than to be a music producer. Despite early misgivings, she winds up joining the group at the behest of her professor father. She becomes a Bella along with a motley crew of cast-offs and misfits.

Of course, there's a love interest a young man named Jesse (Skylar Astin, 'Love Written in Blood') who just happens to also be a singer (and a new member of the hated Treblemakers).

Will the Barden Bellas be able to make it back to the finals and avenge their embarrassment from the previous year? Will the new energy allow them to break out of the stodgy a cappella traditionalism that has heretofore held them back? Will Becca and Jesse find a way to overcome their differences and find happiness?

You probably already know the answer to all of these questions.

It's hard to know where to begin with a movie like 'Pitch Perfect.' Frankly, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea that I live in a world where this movie exists. And it's based on a book. A book. Wrap your head around that.

There's a lot of a cappella. Like, a lot. Think about how much a cappella singing you'd expect from a movie about a cappella singing. It's even more than that. It seemed like every other scene was packed with people harmonizing and making goofy noises in an attempt to recreate some pop classic or another. And it's almost shocking how not-terrible it all is.

It's ridiculous, sure. But it's also heartfelt. I'm not sure how they landed Kendrick for this role, but she's game, doing good work in a role that's all fluff. Astin is amiable enough and he can certainly sing he starred in 'Spring Awakening' on Broadway, after all though his acting technique consists primarily of slightly befuddled smiling. Camp and Snow are solid, while Rebel Wilson ('What to Expect When You're Expecting') elicits some laughs as Fat Amy. The rest of the supporting cast is mostly there to sing, a job they perform quite well, although John Michael Higgins ('Big Miracle') and Elizabeth Banks ('People Like Us') have some fun as the announcers for the a cappella competitions.

'Pitch Perfect' isn't great. It's not even particularly good. It is, however, unabashedly goofy and surprisingly sincere. It's also a lot more fun than you might think.

2.5 out of 5

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 14:58


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