(2012, US, d. Jason Moore)
Strange, boring, and all too familiar to be receiving the acclaim it is (and talk of a sequel), Pitch Perfect is another retreading of wholly familiar Hollywood territory.
Though bolstered by very strong performances from a talented ensemble, these actors can only do so much to band-aid a movie we’ve all seen before. And while I’m the last guy to ever bash a film for being too formulaic or “Hollywood”, there must be a certain genuine quality to these films – and I never felt that was the case here.
I didn’t believe the love story. I didn’t believe any of the characters outside of the protagonist’s A Capella circle, and I especially didn’t believe that any of the songs they were singing would be received so well.
Pitch Perfect tells the story of Beca Mitchell (Up in the Air‘s Anna Kendrick), a new freshman in college/aspiring DJ who thinks she has far more promising options that don’t involve her attending college. Her father, a professor at the college, tells her that if she actively works in a group for an entire year and still doesn’t see the value by the end, then he will fully support her on her journey elsewhere. Of course, we all know how the story goes from there.
When Beca joins the Bellas, an A Capella organization without any chance of hope, it soon becomes her responsibility to give the group that juice in the arm it has been so desperate to receive. And during the process, Beca sees the light and wonder of friendship, of staying in school, of relationships, etc etc…
Moving on, I had a huge problem with the content of the Bellas’ songs. I listen to a lot of A Capella and what they were singing by the final competition was nothing new, but the filmmakers instead cheat and give every other competing team such boring and backwards songs that, of course, by comparison, the Bellas sound incredible. But if anyone actually steps onto a college campus and listens to the variety of songs A Capella groups put out, he will quickly discover there is nothing special about what the Bellas sang.
Of course, that problem would be forgotten if the entire film was a little funnier, more genuine, or even more unique. Sure, it had its hilarious moments. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and Kendrick provide a wonderful comic duo that really shines past the content they’re in and the occasional appearances of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are nothing but comedic gold. But Pitch Perfect far too often seems like a tonal-wannabe of the far better teen flicks of our generation, especially Will Gluck’s Easy A. Its screenwriting is smarter than the film its written for (which is often the case in good teen comedies), but still, nothing ever feels right here.