Friday, October 05, 2012

Review: Pitch Perfect

There are so many reasons to hate Pitch Perfect, and yet it's impossibly tough to do so. It's a movie that you'll laugh at as much with, then store in the back of your mind until you meet someone else who's seen it. You'll start talking about how awful it is, then start trying to top each other by talking about the parts that were the most awful.

Then, after you've spent half an hour of your life talking and laughing about a movie you were sure you didn't like, it will occur to you that you actually hate-liked it to the point that you wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Pitch Perfect is one of those movies in which a mismatched performance group gets together, overcomes infighting and strives to win the championship of whatever while at the same time uniting the lead characters in everlasting love. The hook here is that the groups are preciously choreographed a capella song-and-dance groups like what you'd see on Glee or The Sing Off.

You come for the electric song and dance numbers and feel free to take a bathroom break, snack bar run or nap when the drama starts getting all dramatic. Characters may have problems to solve, but you may as well block out what they're saying and imagine the dialogue actually goes:

"Oh no! We're not singing and that means we're really boring again!"

"Quick, let's start singing and dancing again!"

"But we're stuck in a dull story scene!"

"OK, let's just shout at each other until it's time to sing and dance again!"

For all its awfulness, there are aspects of Pitch Perfect that are undeniably good. For one, Rebel Wilson, who plays the group's answer to Honey Boo Boo, an overly self-assured plus-size bundle of joy who calls herself Fat Amy. A dynamic performer cast from the mold of Melissa McCarthy, Wilson is so exuberantly funny that if she met female comedian-bashing Adam Carolla, he would undoubtedly declare her to be a man - his highest compliment.

Also winning is Anna Kendrick, who does her eternally annoyed eye-rolling thing as Beca, a college freshman who is coerced by her dad into joining the Bellas, the all-female a capella squad, and chief rival to - not the Edwards, but the Treblemakers.

Beca's rival is Queen bee Aubrey (Anna Camp) bosses around her fellow Bellas, including sidekick Chloe (Brittany Snow) and has the adorably irritating tendency to tack on the prefix "aca" to the beginning of things the way Smurfs do the word "smurf." Aubrey forbids hook-aca-ups with the hated Treblemakers, so Beca's budding romance with Jesse (Skyler Astin) is un-aca-ceptable.

Forget about the plot, though. The filmmakers sure do. There's little rhyme or reason for anything that happens. Things are so free and loose that eventually you stop questioning why the contest announcing team of John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks are following around the Bellas just about wherever they go, deriding them for spending too much time on their Ace of Base routine.

There are just enough wacky jokes to keep things fun and lively. A shy girl making snow angels in a pool of vomit, women referring to their lady parts by male names and Fat Amy mistaking burrito residue on her outfit as evidence that she's been victimized by a drive-by shooter are some highlights. Not to mention aca-puns. Aca-puns galore!

Those are the things that stick with you when you're mulling over your inability to hate a movie that's just too easy to love.

Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson. Written by Kay Cannon, adapted from Mickey Rapkin's book. Directed by Jason Moore. Rated PG-13. 112 minutes.

My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.

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