Review-Off: Pitch Perfect
Review-Off is like a Sing-Off, but with opinions and critique instead of spontaneous harmonies. If you want to declare a winner, feel free.
Other reviewers: Sharona
Apparently Pitch Perfect is based on a book; one with the full title Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A CAPPELLA Glory.
Let me re-type that for emphasis: The Quest for Collegiate A CAPPELLA Glory.
This subtitle pretty much encapsulates how I feel about a cappella singing – it’s a little goofy, but it also seems like fun.
I guess by extension that’s what I expected from Pitch Perfect the film.
Meet Beca (Anna Kendrick), our protagonist. She’s a reluctant freshman with dreams of moving to Los Angeles and producing music; dreams that are waylaid by her father’s insistence that she attend college. So instead of being in LA, she finds herself at Barden University, wandering around the orientation festivities. Here she crosses paths with the Barden Bellas, an all-girl choir.
Long story short, the Bellas are in trouble. After a humiliating loss during their last competition, they became the joke of the a cappella world and the two remaining members, Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chole (Brittany Snow), are desperate for new singers to help them reclaim some respect.
Beca’s response (paraphrased): “No, thanks. I don’t even sing.”
But the audience knows she’s lying; we’ve all seen the trailers. And as soon as Chloe catches on, Beca finds herself literally cornered into a spontaneous shower sing-along – personal boundaries matter little when collegiate a cappella glory is at stake. Beca eventually joins the Bellas and the rest of the movie plays out pretty much as you expect.
But wait… there’s romance.
Enter fellow freshman Jesse (Skylar Astin). He’s affable. He’s a little dorky. He’s got ‘love interest’ written all over his being. But he’s also a new member of the Treblemakers, the on-campus rivals of the Bellas, and Beca has been forbidden to fraternize with them. Says who? Says Aubrey – she might have a bit of a grudge. But hey, no spiteful third party edict has ever stopped a romantic subplot before.
Pitch Perfect excels when it embraces its own ridiculousness. While Beca essentially plays the straight man, the rest of the characters range from mildly to wildly eccentric. Most of these characters are defined by their quirks, relying on them in lieu of actual personality, but this is pretty standard with minor characters in comedies. Rebel Wilson delivers some terrific one-liners as Fat Amy, and the narcissistic antics of Bumper (Adam DeVine), the ersatz antagonist, are quite amusing.
The musical performances are entertaining. Nothing spectacular, but enjoyable all the same.
Where Pitch Perfect doesn’t quite hold it together, is when it attempts to be serious. The main culprits are the scenes where Beca confronts her own insecurities. While these moments of character development are not unnecessary, they do feel rushed, and consequently a little shallow.
Nonetheless, I’m inclined to forgive some of these faults. Yes, there are some clichéd moments. Yes, most of the Bellas are fairly two dimensional. Yes, the plot has all the unexpected twists and turns of a roundabout. But Pitch Perfect is silly enough and funny enough to redeem itself. Just don’t take it too seriously and you should be fine.