The “Glee” effect is mighty, indeed.
Fox’s cover song series clearly inspired “Pitch Perfect,” the tale of a lightly troubled co-ed who joins an a capella group that changes her life.
The comedy, available now on Blu-ray and DVD, is merely an excuse to inject even more cheery cover songs into our culture, a condition afflicting not just “Glee” but most animated movies of late and every reality singing show.
“Pitch Perfect” feels inspired all the same – at first. The comedy acknowledges the geeky nature of students who worship at the altar of top 40 ditties but embraces the notion all the same. That’s smart, and so is the opening sequences which set the story in motion. It’s soon clear “Glee” power isn’t quite enough as the narrative collapses, and the characters meander through the motions en route to an admittedly chipper finale.
Star Anna Kendrick commands our attention until she’s forced to behave in bratty, brittle fashion, withdrawing the final payments from our sympathy banks.
Kendrick plays Beca, a slightly dour college freshman who’d rather move to L.A. yesterday to start her career as a music producer/DJ. Her college professor pappy says, “not so fast,” forcing her to give college the ol’ college try.
Beca reluctantly joins the Bellas, the university’s all-female a capella squad struggling to find its identity. She befriends the group’s rag-tag assembly, from perfectionist Aubrey (Anna Camp) to outspoken Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson, whose scene stealing rep fades as the story wears on).
The Bellas need help, especially given the campus a capella superstars the Treble Makers are as arrogant as they are good.
“Pitch Perfect” gives Beca a romantic subplot that never catches fire, symptomatic of the film’s struggle to energize anything save the musical numbers. And when you’ve heard a cover version of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” for the umpteenth time you’re sure to scream, “uncle!”
John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks appear sporadically as a capella announcers channeling that “Best of Show” snark. Their scenes don’t mesh into the story as they should, but their bawdy banter is twice as humorous as the rest of the film, particularly the tonally awful vomit gags.
The Blu-ray extras include officially titled deleted and extended scenes along with a secondary feature dubbed, “meanwhile …” which serve essentially the same purpose. Audiences enamored with all forms of cover song comedy along with the flawed but feisty Bellas will find significant comfort here.