Susan Granger’s review of “Pitch Perfect” (Universal)
With the success of “Glee,” set in high school, it was inevitable that the nerdy, youth-oriented chorale singers move on. According to director Jason Moore, college competitive singing was the next step. But these harmonizers are not the legendary Yale Whiffenpoofs. Instead, the story centers around a female a cappella group called the Barden Bellas of Barden University, who are determined to break through the “glass ceiling” and triumph over Barden’s Treblemakers, the male national champions, fronted by obnoxious Bumper (Adam DeVine).
The Bellas’ authoritarian blond leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), and her redheaded BFF, Chloe (Brittany Snow), forcibly recruit reluctant freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) to join them. Hipster Beca is determined to be a music producer and is only attending Barden because her father is a professor. Beca’s joined by Aussie quipster Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), soft-spoken Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and black, butch Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean). Admittedly, after Aubrey’s public vomiting, the Bellas can no longer attract “superhot girls with bikini-ready bods.”
At the campus radio station, it’s inevitable that Beca hooks up with wannabe film-score composer Jesse (Skyler Astin), a geeky Treblemaker who courts her by showing her the conclusion of “The Breakfast Club.”
Best known for staging “Avenue Q” to Broadway, Jason Moore is no toe-tapping stranger, adeptly working with improv comedienne Kay Cannon’s screen adaptation of Mickey Rapkin’s 2009 non-fiction expose “Pitch: Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Capella Glory.” Although it was filmed at Louisiana State University, the national finals take place at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center – under the supervision of a cappella experts Ed Boyer and Deke Sharon with choreography by Aakomon “AJ” Jones. And the dueling TV commentators (John Michael Higgins/Elizabeth Banks) are hilarious.
Problem is: Anna Kendrick’s 27 – far too old to be believable as a college freshman. And, following a formulaic plot, the conventional conclusion is predictable. But that didn’t seem to hurt crowd-pleasers like “Bring It On,” “Drumline” or “Stomp the Yard.”
So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Pitch Perfect” is a saucy, snarky, spirited 7. Sing it on!