‘Pitch Perfect’ Review
Be daring, bold, and different, and you’ll stand apart from the pack. Pitch Perfect not only succeeds in doing just that, but its camp-like nature and comedy will leave you floored from beginning to end. Not to mention, the seven and ten part harmonies of our favorite chart-topping songs never sounded so fresh; it’s as if we were listening to them for the very first time, just a cappella.
To say that Pitch Perfect was “just good”, is an understatement. This film is damn good and a breath of fresh air from the musical theatre butchery that’s flooding television sets nowadays. Is it without flaws, not by any means, but we’re able to appreciate the film for what it is. Pitch Perfect reminds us just why we enjoy going to the movies; we’re looking for a film that’ll take us to another place and offer entertainment. And this film does just that and much more.
Anna Kendrick plays our main character, Beca, a freshman at Barden University who is continuously hounded to join her school’s all-girl a cappella group, The Bellas. However, Beca has other plans in mind as her true passion is to become a DJ. You won’t catch Beca without her headset, a jump drive, and computer in hand.
Beca finally decides to attend a cappella auditions the next day, but only after Bella member Chloe (Britney Snow) corners her in a shower after hearing her sing David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium.” As you might of guessed, Beca joins The Bellas, but this year instead of their slim, fit, and one-toned members of the past, the group gets an entire new look — a colorful cast of misfits.
Run by the ritual obsessed Aubrey (Anna Camp), The Bellas are in desperate need of an update in music and performance style, especially since their main competitors, the all-male a cappella group The Trebelmakers, win the national competition every year. Beca’s the right person for the job, but she’ll have to go head-to-head with Aubrey and keep her relationship with Trebelmaker member Jesse (Skyler Astin) under wraps.
‘Pitch Perfect’ ≠ ‘Glee’
Ill say this right now, Pitch Perfect is not Glee. Those looking for an emotion-filled drama packed with spontaneous burst of musical outflow will be disappointed. On the same note, those who have the mindset of, “I refuse to see Pitch Perfect, because I’m too cool, and it looks like a lame knockoff of Glee,” will be highly surprised when and if they sit down to watch it.
It’s the a cappella style and comedy that sets Pitch Perfect apart from Glee. Director Jason Moore and screenwriter Kay Cannon utilized the popularity of the a cappella trend online. Youtube sensations like Mike Tompkins and The Pentatonix have created a massive social media following by taking our favorite songs on the radio and breaking them down into beats, rhythms, and harmonies. No instruments allowed besides the voice.
Ican’t go on enough about this talented cast. They did well with what they were given. The script lacked a sense of unity and character relationships, but the actors’ chemistry with one another saved this film. You could tell they had an amazing time on set.
Anna Kendrick’s great at what she does. She’s made a name for herself in the indie world, and lately she’s been showing us what’s under that quirky personality of hers. She’s much more than an actress; she’s a comedian, a singer, and a rapper.
Brittany Snow (Hairspray) and Anna Camp (The Help) star opposite Kendrick as the longtime members of The Bellas. These ladies basically run the group, and you’ll want to strangle them both as they masterfully embody the musical theatre mentality. They’re dramatic, high maintenance, and “a ca-annoying.”
The supporting cast just about stole the entire show. Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids), singer/songwriter Ester Dean, and Hana Mae Lee (Workaholics) had most of the comedic lines, and they milked every moment. The timing and delivery was just right and nothing was forced or unnatural. These ladies just did their thing and it worked. There’s also a surprise appearance from Christopher Mintz-Plasse, whose role is small but interesting to say the least.
A cappella = adjective & adverb (with reference to choral music) without instrumental accompaniment.
You can’t help but sit back and watch in amazement as the cast belt, beat, hum, drum, bop, and pop their way through songs spanning five decades! The film starts with The Trebelmakers a cappella performance of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop the Music”. From there it’s a never ending journey through chart-topping tunes.
One of my favorite scenes include the audition into Barden University’s a cappella society, which consists of four different groups, two of those being The Bellas and The Trebelmakers. Those who tryout must prepare Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone.”
Instead of taking us shot-by-shot through everyone’s audition, cinematographer Julio Macat and editor Zach Chemberlene filmed 8-10 characters singing that one tune. They then edited the shots and voices together so that as the song progressed the audience received a really dope version of many different voices belting their way to the end.
And then there’s “The Riff-Off!” You won’t find a singing competition as entertaining as this one. All four a cappella groups meet in a drained out swimming pool, and must sing songs from random categories (i.e. Song about Sex, Ladies of the ’80s). But the catch is one group has to start the new song using the last word sang by the opposing group. Here’s a bit of “The Riff-Off”:
Just Enough Camp
I won’t deny it, Pitch Perfect is pretty damn campy. More so than your average college comedy, but it works for the film, surprisingly. The script pokes fun at the highly competitive world of a cappella. Yes, such things do exist. Instead of Cannon denying the fact that a cappella is a bit nerdy, he lays it on heavy, comedy and all.
And speaking of camp, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) and John Michael Higgins’ characters are nothing but silly. As announcers for the a cappella competitions, these two flirt their way into our hearts, with their high energy and sexual tension. At times, Pitch Perfect‘s a tad bit ridiculous, but nothing over the top.
Weak Character Relationships
Character relationships can either make or break a film. Movies and stories are about the relationship between a set of characters, and how the dynamic between them evolve. Unfortunately, for Pitch Perfect several relationships were never fleshed out and explored, leaving audience members a bit bewildered by the end.
We meet Beca’s father, who also happens to be a professor at the university. In the beginning of the film he appears to play an important part in Beca’s life, as he comes in and checks on his daughter’s new dorm room and convinces her to try college for just one year. After that we never see the man again until a pivotal scene near the end. And of course he reappears to play “Daddy.”
Certain supporting characters are just left hanging with no resolution. Another being Adam Devine’s character, Bumper, who heads The Treblemakers; he leaves for LA in pursuit of a recording contract. The plot point makes sense, but its execution is sloppy.
Creating a refreshing plot line for a film like Pitch Perfect is difficult because it has to follow a certain formula. Competition movies such as Camp Rock, Step Up, Whip It, Bring It On, Fame, Fast and Furious, etc., are usually pretty predictable. There’s the initial competition where our protagonists must fight their way to the big finale, and in between they must train like never before and work together to be the best.
Along the way members of the group argue and the team dynamic gets thrown off, which threatens their chances at first place. Pitch Perfect falls into this mundane trap and does little to rise above the normality. If it wasn’t for the a cappella, the comedy, the high energy, and Kendrick, Wilson, and several other actors, the film would’ve buckled. The story isn’t strong enough to stand alone.
Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Go see this film! Bring some friends, splurge on that expensive candy in the lobby, or just sneak some in your friend’s oversized purse, and enjoy. You’ll have a blast, and will come out of the theater humming the tunes and laughing your ass off. Pitch Perfect stays in tune during the entire two hours and never misses a note.
‘Pitch Perfect’ Trailer