True fans of Anna Kendrick will remember a scene from the 2003 musical comedy Camp in which she scorched out a bitchy-beyond-her-years rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “The Ladies Who Lunch,” complete with martini glass and wobble. The girl’s got pipes: You’ll want Kendrick’s starring role in Pitch Perfect—an empowerment comedy about a cappella collegians—to tap that furious sense of showmanship. Express the smallest amount of disappointment, then, that she’s stuck in the predictable part of Beca, a glum outsider and headphones-adorned deejay who becomes a team player, elevating her squad of worn-down gals through a tournament-based plot that rarely strays from the tune.
Enough tart details remain in Kay Cannon’s script (based on former GQ editor Mickey Rapkin’s dorky 2008 tell-all) to make the good-faith effort go down smoothly. White-bread earnestness is deftly skewered, from sickly sweet renditions of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” to flirtations with blazer-clad everydudes. And even though they ride the gag a bit too hard, most of the dialogue’s variants on a cappella (“A ca-excuse me?”) are winners. A belter does arrive in the form of Bachelorette’s Rebel Wilson, flinging around confident sass with abandon. Is the presence of a long-suffering boyfriend (Skylar Astin) required? Not really. This film could have done with a few more mouth beats and unlikely moments of extracurricular celebrity.
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