'Pitch Perfect' is a Glee-ful hit

The Fresno BeeOctober 4, 2012 

This movie about college a cappella groups isn't sharp or flat. The script and cast are in such harmony in "Pitch Perfect," it is definitely a Glee-ful hit.

Anna Kendrick, who's rapidly becoming the most versatile young actor in Hollywood, plays Beca, a college freshman with the social skills of a feral cat. Anyone gets close and they could end up feeling her wrath.

Only blackmail by her father gets her to agree to take part in an on-campus group. Her love of music leads her to Barden University's The Bellas, an all-female singing group that missed out on a national title the year before when the lead singer (Anna Camp) projected more than her voice into the first three rows.

This legacy makes it hard to attract the "bikini-ready" singers of the past, resulting in the motliest college crew since "Revenge of the Nerds."

Along with the anti-social Beca is the overly confident Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), the sex-starved Stacie (Alexis Knapp), low-talker psycho Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and vocally troubled Chloe (Brittany Snow).

Kay Cannon's screenplay, based on Mickey Rapkin's book, is the right mix of outlandish humor and musical energy. There's no way these genres should work as a duet, but the blend is as smooth and funny as a mashup of albums by Bill Cosby and Miles Davis.

Jason Moore makes an impressive film directing debut as he finds a way for every member of this large comedy ensemble to have their moment. He uses an up-tempo beat to keep the jokes coming, only letting up for the very impressively staged musical numbers.

As an added bonus, John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks are hilarious as former a cappella singers who now do the announcing and color commentary for the competition telecasts. Banks is particularly funny with a delivery that's so deadpan it masks just how inappropriate her comments are. There hasn't been such a funny commentary team since "Best in Show."

It would have been very easy to tune out "Pitch Perfect" after so many seasons of "Glee." But from the always dependable acting of Kendrick to the in-synch direction of Moore, this production is a comedy octave higher than any episode of the TV series.

PITCH PERFECT

Rated PG-13 for language, drug use, sexual content.

Stars Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Hanna Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks.

Directed by Jason Moore.

Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes.

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 4

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