Pitch Perfect (2012) Universal Pictures/Musical-Comedy RT: 112 minutes Rated PG-13 (language, sexual references, underage drinking, a drug reference) Director: Jason Moore Screenplay: Kay Cannon Music: Christophe Beck and Mark Killian Cinematography: Julio Macat Release date: September 28, 2012 (US-limited)/October 5, 2012 (US-wide) Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Shelley Regner, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, John Benjamin Hickey.
I have a small confession to make and I really hope that it doesn’t destroy whatever credibility I may have as a film critic. I am a confirmed “Gleek”! I have seen every single episode of Glee since its premiere back in early 2009. What can I say; it’s a really good show. I had a pretty good feeling about Pitch Perfect, a music-themed comedy about an all-girls a cappella singing group at a Georgia university. It actually plays like a mash-up of Glee and Bring It On (except the students are in college instead of high school). There’s so much to like about Pitch Perfect that it’s almost criminal that the screenplay is about as formulaic as they come. However, I don’t think that the movie’s intended audience will really care about this too much. They’ve come for the musical sequences and, in that respect, Pitch Perfect totally delivers. I’ll get back to that in a few moments; I’d like to kick things off by talking about my favorite part of the movie. That would be supporting actress Rebel Wilson (Bachelorette). If you’ve seen that trailer that’s been running for the past few months, then you’ll know that I’m talking about the blond-haired plus-sized girl who seems to have all the best lines. She plays a character named “Fat Amy” and she quickly establishes herself as a force to be reckoned with when she refers to the group’s leaders as “twig bitches”.
Wilson steals the show! She dominates every single scene in which she appears; her absence is felt whenever she’s off-screen. This girl is hilarious! I see big things (not a fat joke!) ahead for her.
Alt-chick Becca (Kendrick, the Twilight movies) arrives at Barden University with a bad attitude and dreams of going to L.A. to become a music producer. She doesn’t want to be there, but her father (a lit professor at the university) insists that she take advantage of the free college education to which she’s entitled. Becca isn’t interested in getting to know any of her peers, especially the handsome guy who’s been crushing on her since the first day of orientation. Jesse (Astin, Taking Woodstock) serenades her with a few lines of “Carry On My Wayward Son” from a car as she unloads her luggage from a taxi. She first encounters the Bellas at the Activities Fair when they invite her to audition for them. They’ve the biggest joke on campus after Aubrey (Camp, The Help) vomited on stage during the Finals at Lincoln Center. Now the captain of the Bellas, Aubrey is determined to get another at the championship before she graduates (she’s a senior). She and her co-captain Chloe (Snow, Hairspray) are desperate for new members and they ultimately end up with some real characters. Becca initially declines their invitation to try out, but she changes her mind after promising her father that she’ll make more of an effort at school in exchange for him sending her to L.A. after completing her freshman year. She nails her audition and quickly learns that the Bellas need a lot of work if they want to win the annual a cappella competition. The main problem is that their playlist is about 20 years out of date; their go-to song is the Ace of Base (remember them?) song “I Saw the Sign”. Becca points out that they need to change things up, but control freak Aubrey won’t even consider deviating from the way they’ve always done things.
The Bellas main competition is the male a cappella group The Treble-Makers, led by the super-arrogant Bumper (DeVine, Workaholics). The previous year’s winners, they really hate their female counterparts and never miss a chance to put them down. Jesse joins the Treble-Makers and that’s where the whole complicated romance aspect of the movie comes into play. It’s strictly forbidden for a Bella to become romantically involved with a Treble-Maker. Aubrey kicks two girls out of the group on the first day of rehearsals for this very offense. Like I said, there are a few real loo-loos in the Bellas. Besides Fat Amy, there’s also sexually overactive Stacie (Knapp, Project X), a possibly lesbian African-American girl (Dean) and an extremely soft-spoken Asian girl (Lee) who admits to some pretty far-out things (if only the other girls could actually hear what she’s saying). Okay, I think that I’ve said enough about the plot of Pitch Perfect. As you can see, it’s a total paint-by-the-numbers affair. It’s not a bad movie; it’s simply a very predictable one. I like several things about this movie, especially the great mash-ups performed by the a cappella groups. I’m particularly fond of the Riff-Off sequence in the empty pool when Becca and the girls blow away their competitors with their rendition of “No Diggity” (Blackstreet). John Michael Higgins (We Bought a Zoo) and Elizabeth Banks (one of the film’s co-producers) contribute funny supporting roles as commentators at the singing competitions. Kendrick does a respectable job as the movie’s main character; she’s still not that strong of an actress but she keeps improving with each subsequent role. She’s almost there. The Romeo and Juliet-like romance between Becca (the quasi-Goth) and Jesse (strictly teen idol) is okay, but it’s treated as an after-thought given all that’s going on between and within the singing groups. In my opinion, this movie belongs to Rebel Wilson. I think a whole movie could be made about her character; she’s certainly more interesting than anybody else in the movie. In general, Pitch Perfect is an enjoyable movie. It’s definitely pleasing to the eyes and ears, but the overall experience is the cinematic equivalent of empty calories.