So, 3 years ago, a TV programme somehow managed to become a small phenomenon despite itself and everyone saying how "they didn't watch it!" A show that was basically a musical every week with a bunch of kids singing existing songs to explain their feelings? Go to the theatre if you want that then nerds!
But it continued to air and sold records aplenty. Now, we have what on the outside appears to be a "made-for-the-big-screen" version of Glee! replete with the battle for Regionals and a bucket full of attitude to match too.
As a fan of Glee! myself, I can none-the-less see how people could not cope with it and naturally want to avoid any cinematic version of it like the plague or worse - the "wannabe's" on X-Factor. For those of you who fall into that category - stop right now, thank you very much!
Every now and then, audiences are treated too, so long as they let themselves be, a film that breaks out of its pigeon-holing and not only appeals to, but can win over all demographics other than what its storyline and its trailer suggests. Films such as Clueless, Mean Girls and 10 Things I Hate About You were looked at as just "teen/coming of age" flicks but they had a maturity and cleverness about them that made them hugely successful and popular to anyone who saw them, no matter what their age was.
Pitch Perfect is able to put itself into that category. Yes, it is slightly predictable. Yes, it has at certain points more cheese than Cathedral City's warehouse. But then, so were all the other genre-breaking flicks previously mentioned that pulled in punters other than their target teen audience. Here, as in with the others, it's all about the dialogue and the cast that delivers them. With a great cast and cracking dialogue, cliches become relevant plot points rather than eye-roll inducing set pieces.
And the cast here is perfectly pitched (pun intended.) Kendrick shows that her Up In The Air performance wasn't just a fluke or great because she had Clooney to bounce off of. Here she plays the "leave me alone but at the same time acknowledge me" new girl to the campus that issues out rape whistles (but asks that you only use them if it's really happening!) with charm for you to instantly like her. That role could be grating or downright annoying but Kendrick avoids such reactions. Her fellow musicians who "make music, with their mouths" are all the stereotypes you would expect to be present and correct - the slut, the quiet one, the rich bitch and since the successful arrival of The Hangover's out-spoken Alan, the mouthy fat one.
Wilson who plays Fat Amy, gets the main slice of the laugh-out-loud comedy hits from the ensemble - vertical running, drive-by Burrito'd, bikini carwash demonstration - whilst the others have to be content with either reacting, singing and the occasional sight jokes - secret lesbian looks, The Goonies-style vomiting - whilst the boys get their own slice of male humour - the Star Wars dorm room gag is sheer genius.
The consistently best side characters however are the commentators during the various regional and national competitions. Think of Dodgeball's Jason Bateman, then take his essence and place it into Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins and sit back and watch the sexist, ageist and racist comments just fly by! If you don't long for another competition just to hear the thinly veiled sarcasm and the politically incorrect comments from the two then it's time to put the microphone away and just walk away.
Of course, in the end, despite all the shenanigans, love interests and rivalries, Pitch Perfect is about music and to a degree, choreography and these are both delivered incredibly well. All songs are either toe-tappers, hum-alongers or, with the case of No Diggity, just plain old sit -up-in-your-seat classics!
More than just another teen flick, this is a cleverly written, well performed delight that allows you to admit you do like some form of musicals. Go see, go sing, go enjoy!
UK release date: 21.12.12