Sing and swing

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE


Di­rected by Ja­son Moore. Star­ring Anna Ken­drick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wil­son, Anna Camp, Alexis Knapp, Sky­lar Astin

12A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 112 min This en­ter­tain­ing mu­si­cal finds time to pay co­pi­ous trib­ute to John Hughes’s faux-sub­ver­sive 1980s drama The Break­fast Club. So cosy is Pitch Per­fect that it makes the Hughes film seem like some rad­i­cal 16mm ef­fu­sion of the Marx­ist un­der­ground.

Rid­ing the Glee rip­tide, Pitch Per­fect sets it­self in the pe­cu­liar world of com­pet­i­tive a cap­pella singing. You know how th­ese things go. Anna Ken­drick plays a sup­pos­edly re­bel­lious teenager (she has more than one ear pierc­ing) who ar­rives at univer­sity with plans to make no friends and at­tend few lec­tures.

For rea­sons that never en­tirely stack up, Ken­drick gets drawn into the most prim, least flex­i­ble of the col­lege’s singing so­ci­eties. They have just lost a na­tional fi­nal, but seem un­able to get out of their con­ser­va­tive rut: milder Ace of Base cov­ers blend into milder ver­sions of Ban­gles tunes.

Never fear. Be­fore the close Anna will have in­tro­duced them to the rad­i­cal, hip new stylings of, erm, Jessie J and Bruno Mars. Mind you don’t frighten the horses, Anna.

So, yes, there are things to whinge about here. (John Michael Hig­gins and Elizabeth Banks, play­ing com­men­ta­tors on the live shows, seem to have lifted their schtick un­al­tered from Best in Show.) But Pitch Per­fect proves im­pos­si­ble to re­sist.

The con­sis­tently ex­cel­lent ac­tors take a slightly un­der­pow­ered script and kick it into some­thing worth singing about. The smash- ing Rebel Wil­son, still coast­ing on the ac­claim from her cameo in Brides­maids, has great fun with a lively An­tipodean who – to beat frat girls to the punch – refers to her­self through­out as Fat Amy. Brittany Snow and Anna Camp bring a de­gree of sym­pa­thy to the posh rulers of the cam­pus.

The film is, how­ever, all about the big num­bers. No sane per­son could ac­cuse the film-mak­ers of be­ing st­ingy on the cheese. No tune is re­jected for be­ing too ob­vi­ous. As a re­sult, the med­leys are all the eas­ier to sing along to. Great fun.

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