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Sep 28, 2012
08:17 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Pitch Perfect
Films opening this weekend in Buffalo:
Hotel Transylvania - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, McKinley Mall, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Hollywood Regals - REVIEW
Looper - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals - REVIEW
Pitch Perfect - Transit, Galleria Regals
Won't Back Down - Maple Ridge; Amherst, Market Arcade, Flix; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals
Anything trying to capitalize on the now waning Glee craze should probably be dismissed sight unseen. How could a film dealing with the catty rivalries of the a cappella world be anything but an eye-rolling waste of celluloid? This is probably exactly what Universal Pictures thinks we'll assume because they are throwing all their weight behind Pitch Perfect with an early release in select cities and a huge Twitter campaign. Not only is it working—a lot of friends have asked whether I'd seen it yet—but it's also warranted. This flick is a ton of fun.
Scripted by 30 Rock staff writer Kay Cannon from former GQ senior editor Mickey Rapkin's debut novel, Pitch Perfect becomes a pastiche of all the best parts from films that utilized the same formula before it. Like any sports flick about an underdog looking for retribution after a tough loss the year before, Barden University's Bellas have something to prove. The first all-female group to ever make the finals, their rather conservative approach to wardrobe and song selection has them at a disadvantage from the start with the Treblemakers' fearlessly cocky approach.
Also from Barden, this all-male contingent is led by Bumper (Adam DeVine), the biggest tool on the planet, one of its most audacious performers, and the yin to new Bella general Aubrey's (Anna Camp) yang. The writing appears to be on the wall early when she chooses Ace of Base as the girls' go-to track again, but being forced to depart from the thin, prim and proper type she generally recruits means this years' Bellas could evolve into a contender.
This new crop of talent is what makes the film entertaining. Bumper, his cohort Donald (Utkarsh Ambudkar), Aubrey, and her Lieutenant Chloe (Brittany Snow) are the old guard who've been through it all before. But the newcomers are anything but conformists. You have Stacie's (Alexis Knapp) overt sexuality classing up the joint, Cynthia Rose's (Ester Dean) tough exterior, Lilly's (Hana Mae Lee) uniquely original borderline mute, and Benji's (Ben Platt) unfortunate nerdom to keep things interesting on the fringe while our leading duo do their thing. It's a menagerie of personalities that sometimes mesh and sometimes clash, but always brings the funny—especially Lee's barely audible lines of pure gold.
Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Jesse (Skylar Astin) are the "cool kids" slumming it with the "a-ca-dorks" because they secretly love the experience. Drowning in cliché, both find a way to make their characters endearingly sarcastic enough to mock their stereotypes while also embodying them. We become more comfortable as they do, moving closer towards the group as the competition and internal conflicts heat up.
Above the tournament and romance angles, however, Pitch Perfect works best when freely paving its own path. The filmmakers aren't afraid to mock their central construct through exaggerated diva personalities or put serious vocal injuries such as nodes in their place. They also let the comedic talent assembled run wild, with some surprise cameos and great work from Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins.
However, it's Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy who truly steals the show as the most crass, odd, and fantastic of them all. Possessed with the stunning ability to make every reaction appear off the cuff, her singing brings the funny as well showcases her talent. But that's par for the course as B.o.B, Bruno Mars, The Bangles, Simple Minds, and more meld together for some exhilarating musical numbers from the entire cast.
Pitch Perfect 7/10 | ★ ★ ★
 (L to R, foreground) Lilly (HANA MAE LEE), Fat Amy (REBEL WILSON), Cynthia Rose (ESTER DEAN), Beca (ANNA KENDRICK) and Stacie (ALEXIS KNAPP) in "Pitch Perfect", an out-loud comedy that's loaded with new takes on old favorites to hits of right now that are seamlessly mixed together, mashed-up and arranged like you've never heard before. Photo Credit: Peter Iovino Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
 (L to R, center) Bumper (ADAM DEVINE), Donald (UTKARSH AMBUDKAR) and Jesse (SKYLAR ASTIN) in "Pitch Perfect", an out-loud comedy that's loaded with new takes on old favorites to hits of right now that are seamlessly mixed together, mashed-up and arranged like you've never heard before. Photo Credit: Peter Iovino Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
 Fat Amy (REBEL WILSON) belts it out in "Pitch Perfect", an out-loud comedy that's loaded with new takes on old favorites to hits of right now that are seamlessly mixed together, mashed-up and arranged like you've never heard before. Photo Credit: Peter Iovino Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.