Pitch Perfect is an enjoyably snarky campus romp that's both wildly nerdy and somewhat sexy. Set in the world of a cappella singing, this snappy, smart-mouthed comedy offers choice opportunities for a bunch of young performers to pop out of the crowd while playing game characters searching for modes of self-expression. Girls, gays and music fanatics represent the core audience, but the good times also should go down easily with a wider in-the-know crowd.
A too-cool-for-you smarminess sheathes the cutthroat competitiveness at Barden U., where, on club recruiting day, the Bellas, an all-female a cappella group, urgently need new blood to have a chance of beating male rivals The Treblemakers, who prevailed in the national finals the previous spring.
With few options, the Bellas' imperious blond leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), and redheaded cohort Chloe (Brittany Snow) dragoon sullen freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) into the group, although she's an aspiring music producer who's only at college because of pressure from her professor dad. Among other newbies are the hilariously self-deprecating Fat Amy (Bridesmaids' Rebel Wilson); Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), an Asian Kewpie doll type; and Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean), a black teen so butch, Fat Amy thinks she's a boy.
Snidely funny sexual-identity comedy suffuses the loose-limbed script by Kay Cannon (30 Rock, New Girl), which ardently embraces the "organized nerd singing" that is a cappella with none of the self-congratulatory righteousness of Glee.
Debuting feature director Jason Moore, best known for having staged Avenue Q on Broadway, sets a quick but not frantic pace and keeps it there; one easily could believe he goosed the actors before every scene, so alert are they to everything going on. You get the feeling all of these talents will be heard from more decisively in the near future.
Scarcely five minutes go by without music, and the bulging soundtrack calls upon oldies, newbies and everything in between to be rendered vocally without instrumentation, with normally arresting results unless it's supposed to sound bad. The choreography is similarly sharp without tipping over into the outlandishly professional.
Opens: Friday, Sept. 28 (Universal)
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp
Director: Jason Moore Rated PG-13, 112 minutes