Pitch Perfect (2012)

(On Cable TV, July 2013) Once in a while, a truly good teen comedy pops up and makes us forget about the mediocre rest.  While Pitch Perfect stars college-aged young women rather that high-schoolers, it’s sufficiently close in tone to Bring it On and Mean Girls to warrant comparison… even though it may not quite be as completely successful as those two earlier films.  Taking place in the world of college a capella groups (mining Mickey Rapkin’s non-fiction book for background, but not plot) Pitch Perfect is a contagiously enjoyable blend of comedy and music that presents a number of musical numbers and at least two showcase acting performances by young actresses.  This is Anna Kendrick’s signature piece to date, as the lead role allows her to use both the sweet and sour side of her we’ve seen on-screen so far: she’s just wonderful, and she gets to sing/play along (witness her solo performance of “Cups / When I’m Gone”, burning up the charts as I write this.)  Still, even a good performance gets overshadowed by a great one, and Pitch Perfect’s breakout star is Rebel Wilson, who transforms a potentially difficult role as an extrovert overweight girl into a scene-stealing blend of braggadocio, hilarity and inappropriate behavior.  Coupled with a better-than-average script with a good density of one-liners, near-perfect editing, staggeringly enjoyable song/dance numbers and a tone that is heavy on pure joy (there are at least three moments of pure wide-smiled bliss in the film, and it’s hard to get even one in a single film these days), Pitch Perfect claims a strong place as one of the best comedies of the year.  It’s not perfect, mind you: the graphic emphasis on vomiting is off-putting, the lead romance feels bland at best (there’s more chemistry between the protagonist and another female character), and the end of the film isn’t particularly good at tightening up all of the plot threads.  Still, Pitch Perfect is distinctly better than a lot of other teenage comedies and remains surprisingly entertaining even for older viewers.

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