|Beca (Kendrick) and "The Bellas"|
Directed by Jason Moore
Produced by Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, and Max Handelman
Written by Kay Cannon (screenplay); Mickey Rapkin (book)
Starring Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks
A cappella singing has never been so appealing. Fresh out of high school, Beca (Kendrick) dreams of being a record producer, but she enters Barden University at the insistence of her father, a professor. On campus, she joins the "The Bellas", which is a girls a cappella group and one of four serious a cappella outfits at the university. In this world, the competitions are intense, and there's even an international collegiate championship. While Beca interns at the school's radio station and practices with the group, she meets Jesse (Astin), who is in "The Treblemakers" - a rival guys a cappella group. The girls in her group are not supposed to sleep with them, but Beca is conflicted, because deep down she really likes him. Meanwhile, the big competition is nigh, and the girls must work through the escalating tension to give a great performance on their big night.
Although this film borrows from TV's Glee (which I hate) and other films, director Jason Miller's cinematic debut is far better. The film is loaded with thrilling musical numbers, hilarious one-liners, and charming performances from the ensemble. Obvious standouts in the cast are Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, but Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, and Skylar Astin also fill their roles quite well. The screenplay walks a thin line with this formulaic plot, yet it never oversteps its bounds. Everything feels right. This is a glorious fusion of hit songs and pop culture references, and it somehow combines the feeling of a cult classic with a refreshing new story. Though stories like this are frequently told, this film goes all in, and never holds back. It's a well-executed, little gem that essentially came out of nowhere, and it's one of the year's best. I can't recommend this one enough. It's charming, heartwarming, and, for lack of a better word, it's just cool. There are plenty of memorable moments worth mentioning, but I won't spoil them. Just go see it.
Oscar Potential: None