Pitch Perfect sings loudly in the key of funny

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      Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Anna Camp. Rated PG. Opens Friday, October 5, at the Ridge Theatre

      Forget keggers, all-night library sessions, and bi-curious adventures. According to Pitch Perfect (and the nonfiction book that “inspired” it), the hot new craze at American colleges is a cappella singing.

      Funnier and considerably more heartfelt than it has a right to be, the movie takes it on faith that the post-Glee audience is skipping indie-band angst in favour of “synchronized lady dancing to megahits by Mariah Carey”. That’s according to Aubrey (Anna Camp), tightly wound leader of the Barden Bellas, top female warblers of fictional Barden College. There aren’t many ladies left since Aubrey tossed her cookies at last year’s regional sing-offs. (And why so much projectile vomiting in college comedies? Maybe it’s time to bring back goldfish swallowing.)

      It’s her good fortune, and ours, that another semester brings Anna Kendrick’s Beca to campus. The slightly sullen newcomer prefers to make electronic music, but she tentatively joins when the Bellas finally allow gals who aren’t, you know, thin, white, straight, and preferably blond. Alongside Brittany Snow and other amusing Bellas, this means plenty of comic ministrations from Australia’s beefy Rebel Wilson, who sells even the weakest throwaway lines with deadpan verve.

      The formula may not differ hugely from other items in the Bring It On ilk, especially regarding the romantic subplot between Beca and a sweet-tempered guy (Skylar Astin) in the Bellas’ boy-band rivals, the Treblemakers. But there’s a smart script by Kay Cannon, a 30 Rock writer, as directed by first-timer Jason Moore, who comes from a theatre background. And there are many clever musical mashups—the superb Kendrick does her own singing—on the way back to the finals.

      These are hosted, delightfully, by caustic commentators John Michael Higgins and (Pitch producer) Elizabeth Banks, whose character declares moistly: “Nothing makes a girl feel like a woman more than a man who sings like a boy.”

      Watch the trailer for Pitch Perfect.