Pitch Perfect (2012)
Directed by Jason Moore
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin
What was I expecting from a film about an a cappella competition? Frankly, I was expecting a lot more than this. The location is Barden College, where they apparently value school activities more than attending classes. I have to assume there are sports involved at this college, but we never even get a glimpse that exists. What we do see are the rivaling a cappella groups, the defending champions Treblemakers and the all-female Barden Bellas, who are trying to move on from a disastrous performance at the finals.
The film follows a freshman named Beca (Kendrick), who is aspiring to become a DJ/producer and doesn’t show interest in anything else. But when one of the leaders from the Bellas overhears her singing in the shower, she’s convinced to audition and eventually joins the Bellas. But her and head Bella, Aubrey, clash instantly because of Aubrey’s close-minded attitude and routine.
I think you can guess how the rest of the movie plays out. There’s a romantic interest between Beca and freshman Treblemaker recruit Jesse, and there is a lot attempts to make a cappella singing look cool. But it’s an underdog story just like anything else and it comes down to a Treblemaker vs. Barden Bellas finals. There are also the goofy commentators played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who deliver some funny lines but have absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
The one stand-out from the cast is Rebel Wilson who plays Fat Amy. Her performance is the only part of the film that seems like a deliberate attempt at comedy. She was memorable in Bridesmaids and it’s good to see her continue to blossom as a young, comedic actress, especially when a film desperately needs it. As for the talented Anna Kendrick, she seemed a bit uncomfortable in this leading role but it felt more like a struggling screenplay than her actual performance.
The main problem with Pitch Perfect was how little happened and how even less was explained and developed through the duration of the film. There was a two minute scene when Beca questions her father for splitting up with her mom. Was that the reason why Beca was so closed up to anyone that got close to her? If that’s the case, then we’re going to need more than a two minute kitchen conversation. This was just one of the many shortcomings Pitch Perfect displayed, but at least most of the a cappella music was fun, right?
The credits roll after abruptly interrupting an audition scene that the filmmakers are hoping to continue with a sequel. But there was an empty feeling once the film ended, one that felt a lot more like a two-hour Glee episode rather than a memorable high school film like John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, which Pitch Perfect refers to frequently. Maybe that was the point for making the movie in the first place. No message, no moral, just kids having fun making music with their mouths. If that was the intention, then I guess Pitch Perfect is all right.