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Musical comedy hits some high notes, falters with crowded story

Capitalizing on the popularity of a capella groups and glee clubs, Pitch Perfect has a familiar plot: Beca (Anna Kendrick) has just started her freshman year at Barden University, even though her dream is to move to Los Angeles and become a DJ. Fitting in is harder than she expected. At Barden, a capella groups such as the all-male Treble Makers and the all-female Barden Bellas rule the school.

After Beca refuses to try out for the Bellas, the group’s co-captain Chloe (Brittney Snow), in a very Glee-like fashion, finds out Beca has a decent voice. After a series of hilarious and ridiculous auditions, the Bellas end up with less than they had hoped. But with weeks of training and a few mishaps along the way, the Bellas become the group they once were, perfectly harmonized yet boring to watch. Beca’s difficult task is to use her DJ and music-mixing skills to create exciting mashups for the group to sing in a campus competition against its male archenemy.

The film features one of the University’s own a capella groups, the Hullabahoos, singing “The Final Countdown” at the national competition in the movie. They were even announced by name by the commentator in the film (Elizabeth Banks). Entertainment Weekly magazine recently did an interview with third-year member Drew O’Shanick about the film and how real university a capella groups function.

Although many expected a sort of Glee parody, Pitch Perfect builds its own story with hilarious moments, a range of characters and fun musical numbers. Like Glee, the music is exciting and fun to watch. Numbers include pop songs such as “Since U Been Gone,” “Don’t Stop the Music” and mashups featuring as many as six different songs.

Kendrick, who has shined in supporting roles in 50/50 and Up In the Air, was decent, but her character — a cynical, couldn’t-care-less type of girl — did not fit her signature, wry girl-next-door persona. She hits her stride toward the end, however, when she becomes the heroic savior of the Bellas’ career.

The real shining star in Pitch Perfect is Rebel Wilson. The Bridesmaids actress attacks the role of Fat Amy with hilarious wit and perfect timing, an Australian accent and no boundaries. Her one-liners make the movie funny.

Overall, the film is slightly disappointing. Some scenes are laugh-out-loud funny, but others didn’t raise a chuckle from the crowd. I expected Kendrick to be her brilliant, ironic self, but her character did not suit her. The romance between Beca and Jesse (Skylar Austin), a member of the Treble Makers, was almost too much for the film’s already packed plot line. The movie should have been crafted as an underdog story, focusing on the Bellas’ rise to success. Although it would be a fun movie to rent or watch with a group of friends, Pitch Perfect compares poorly to other recent films.

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