Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow. Written by Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin. Directed by Jason Moore. PG. 112 min. Opens Sept. 28.
With ample room in the running time for vocal performances of pop songs ranging from “Don’t Stop the Music” to “No Diggity,” Pitch Perfect is the cinematic equivalent of a late-night YouTube session with a group of friends. Based on a 2008 non-fiction book by GQ editor Mickey Rapkin, the movie was adapted for the screen by 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon and directed by another TV veteran, Jason Moore, who, in addition to directing the Broadway puppet show Avenue Q, has a history with teen drama: He directed episodes of Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, and One Tree Hill. He graduates to university with Pitch Perfect, a Glee for the anti-gleeks.
Anna Kendrick plays Beca, a freshman at Barden University who would rather move to L.A. to pursue her dream of being a DJ (there are perhaps one too many lingering shots of Beca’s laptop screen while she works on a mash-up). Beca’s not a joiner, but her father promises to set her up in L.A. if she gives college a shot for one year. She joins the Barden Bellas, a motley all-female a cappella group hoping to recover from a humiliating loss at the previous year’s collegiate championships. Of course, Beca warms up to her teammates, including the pushy Chloe (Brittany Snow) and the team’s controlling leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp). She also takes a liking to a member of the Bellas’ all-boys rival team, the cocky Treblemakers.
You would be absolutely justified in calling Pitch Perfect the show-choir equivalent to Bring It On. It may be about college, not high school, students, but the classic teen movie homage is unmistakable: Beca and her love interest, Jesse (Skylar Astin), bond over The Breakfast Club, and there’s a hint of tongue-in-cheek ribbing of the archetypal teen-comedy outsider when the Bellas initially protest Beca’s inclusion in the group because “She looks a little too alternative for us” (she’s anything but). The movie’s attempts at genuine emotion come off a little too much like an after-school special, but it’s easy to look past them in favour of its silly, implausible, cheesy teen-movie awesomeness.