Sleeper hits are unexpected but welcomed surprises that can wash away the bad taste coming from a diet of shlock and disappointments. Take, for example, Pitch Perfect, a shining musical-comedy starring the likes of talented indie and cult-status stars, like Anna Kendrick, (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Up in the Air), Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids), Brittany Snow (American Dreams, Hairspray), and Adam Devine (Workaholics). The movie took in less than $15-million in its first major-release weekend coming in behind Taken 2 and Hotel Transylvania, but critics scored the movie high, and the movie eventually garnered a worldwide box-office total of $102-million, putting it behind School of Rock as the second highest-grossing musical comedy ever.
After the Barden University Bellas choke (spew might be the better word) in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, it’s up to returning senior Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp) and Chloe Beale (Snow) to pick up the pieces, recruit members for a new team, and return to the championship. With a tarnished reputation, Posen and Beale don’t find much success finding the prettiest girls to join their all-female group, but they do what they can with their band of misfits. Kendrick plays main character Beca Mitchell, an aspiring DJ-vocalist who strikes a deal with her father to find music support in exchange for a full year of college. But it’s Mitchell’s role in the a capella group that challenges her to come out of her shell and experience life through new relationships.
Rounding out the group are characters, some more important than others, exposing some of Pitch Perfect’s flaws — thin development, plot points that go nowhere, characters that serve no specific purpose, and some extra weight that could have been left on the editing room floor — but despite what it’s got going against it, when the movie strikes gold, the sparks are brilliant. Wilson’s Fat Amy is the movie’s brightest star, and Hana Mae Lee delivers some of the most hilarious and unheard lines as the whispering loony Lily Onakuramara. It’s over the top and entertaining especially when the music is flowing in key scenes like the underground riff-off, the regionals and finals, and in the breakthrough scene after Posen hands the leadership baton to Mitchell. The group’s chemistry is so apparent in a rousing mashup showcasing the power and purity of the human voice.