People at my place of work have been talking up Pitch Perfect as if it’s the crown jewel of recent musical attempts. The anti-Glee as it were. So I went against my better judgment and decided to give it a shot regardless that it’s about singing a cappella pop songs.
Beca (Anna Kendrick) wants to be a DJ, but has to graduate from college first as a promise to her father. She becomes a member of an on campus female a cappella group led by the perfectionist Aubrey (Anna Camp) and the sweet Chloe (Brittany Snow), and along with a misfit group of girls attempt to win a local championship.
Basically what Pitch Perfect boils down to is that it’s a musical version of Bring It On with singing replacing the cheerleading. Every beat is nearly identical, (mostly) every joke is predictable and it is totally paint-by-the-numbers in execution. It’s so average on nearly every level that I had a hard time getting through it in one sitting.
I will say that the actresses do have pretty amazing singing voices. Whether Anna Kendrick actually sang or not I have no idea, but for the most part the other girls in the group do a great job covering hokey pop songs like “The Sign” by Ace of Base or “Like a Virgin” by Madonna. But they all tend to go completely overboard on the cattiness in the dialogue scenes. It became a little annoying the further the movie chugged along. In the end I can’t say that I liked any of the characters at all. Well, maybe one.
The only real positive aspect of the movie, at least to me, was Rebel Wilson. She seems so natural in not only the singing scenes but also all her highly adlibbed dialogue scenes. I read that takes involving her would extend past five or more minutes due to her improvisations, and every one of them that made it into the film were pretty hilarious (“God’s punishing you because you’re a ginger”). Her weight doesn’t seem to be an issue because she’s more or less a female Chris Farley; performing physical comedy seems to be yet another of her many talents.
Outside of that there’s everything you’d expect of a teen/college age comedy. Outcast girl finds outlet for her creativity, bonds with the group, falls in love, gets kicked out of group for retarded reasons and gets accepted back into the group at the last minute to save the day. It’s highly clichéd and not all that entertaining to be honest.
I found it amusing that actress Elizabeth Banks (Slither, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Hunger Games) produced this movie as well as gave herself a plum role as a snarky commentator of the a cappella competitions, but couldn’t find one funny thing to say or do at all in the part. Normally that type of role steals the show, just look at Jason Bateman in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He took a nothing extended cameo part and turned it into gold. Banks is a supremely talented comedic actress and I find it surprising that she bombed completely. Sad.
The rest of the cast is serviceable at best. The douchey male singing group weren’t amusing, just tiresome. The boyfriend role of Jesse, played by Skylar Astin, isn’t charming. He just kind of randomly falls in love with Anna Kendrick’s Beca and vice versa. It’s just thrown in there because it’s what’s expected to happen in this type of film. Even Jesse’s dorky creeper roommate Benji, played by newcomer Ben Platt, is not fun at all. He’s just there to be a crutch to Jesse and that’s all. And what’s worse is that the lead, Anna Kendrick, looks like she doesn’t even want to be in this damned movie.
The writing and direction is pretty flat and standard. You’d think that during the performance scenes there would be all kinds of flashy camera moves and the like to show off the girls strutting their stuff, but it’s all filmed like a big budget episode of American Idol. The Step It Up movies have more style and that’s really saying something negative about the look of this movie if I’m giving props to that back alley abortion franchise. Director Jason Moore probably found Rebel Wilson’s constant adlibbing to be tiresome, but it’s one of the only thing that saves this flick from being a total bore. Anything she came up with is better than all the shitty puns screenwriter Kay Cannon thought up (“You’re gonna get pitch slapped!”).
Like I said earlier, musicals are not my cup of tea. If Pitch Perfect had a better script or a more aggressive sense of humor I might have enjoyed it more. As it is it’s a supremely clichéd flick that does nothing to separate itself from the endless myriad of teen/college flicks outside of the a cappella angle. It’s by-the-book to a “T”, and on that note I give this flick a “D Major”.
Also, I can’t believe this was based on a novel. WTF?!
1.5 out of 5