When aspiring DJ Beca (Anna Kendrick) starts college, her only aspirations are to get out as quickly as possible so she can move to LA and make it big in the music production business. However she somehow finds herself in an all-female a capella singing group that’s as much about bitchy group politics and a fierce rivalry with the smug all-male team as it is about singing. Review of Pitch Perfect after the jump.
The Bellas are struggling to re-coup and find new members after their humiliating loss in the finals of the previous year’s International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Beca is convinced to join the group which captain Aubry (Anna Camp) has managed to scrape together. Far from the Bellas usual prim & proper model-esque members, these girls are a more diverse group who have far more attitude than Aubry is used to dealing with.
The girls face fierce competition and constant heckling from The Treble Makers, the university’s award-winning male a capella group who are a well-oiled and creative musical machine. Auby’s controlling nature and insistence at staying on the tried and true classic path rubs some of the team the wrong way and they struggle to gel as a group. Can the girls get it together to bring it to nationals? Or will the Bellas once again be the laughing-stock of the a capella community?
I have to confess that I am generally not a fan of musicals or musically-inclined films. However, I am always hoping to be surprised and I went into Pitch Perfect with an open mind. Unfortunately this was not the musical comedy film which was going to win me over. For a musical to hook me it has to have a very strong story-line and characters that have depth; films with flimsy stories held together by musical numbers just don’t engage me at all.
Pitch Perfect has an extremely predictable story-line which audience members can easily guess within the first 15 minutes. Much like any competition-driven film, it follows the course of the competition (in this case a capella singing), and it doesn’t offer up any surprises. Aside from a budding romance between Beca and male singer/fellow music lover Jesse (Skylar Astin) and a very small glimpse into Beca’s family life, the film doesn’t deviate from the singing and activities directly related to it. I did enjoy the time spent on developing the romance between Beca and Jesse, and wish the film had spent more time exploring that story-line.
While the performances are mostly strong across the board, the actors aren’t given much to work with. What they are given are characters from the book of stereotypical people you find at high school and/or college. Kendrick plays the girl with the steely resolve to keep everyone out and not have fun, but you know will come around; Rebel Wilson once again plays the outrageous “fat” character; Anna Camp is the uptight proper girl who just needs to let go. There’s also the weird Asian girl, the lesbian, the promiscuous girl and other similarly one-dimensional characters. Just because Rebel Wilson’s character calls herself Fat Amy, doesn’t mean it that’s original or amusing to again cast her in a role which is largely dependent on her weight. How about giving her a role for her acting and comedic skills which has nothing to do with her weight – now that would be original. Her character also seems to be some weird version of what Americans think Australians are like – those Aussie stereotype jokes really didn’t hit the mark for me.
On the plus side some of the musical numbers (particularly towards the end) were very catchy, and the choreography of the song and dance numbers were impressive. Skylar Astin oozed charisma and charm playing Beca’s love interest and male singer Jesse. As mentioned previously, I would have liked to see more of their relationship, as it felt like the most genuine thing in the entire film. I also enjoyed the snide remarks and humour offered up by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who played the official competition commentators – they easily had the best one-liners in the film.
At 112 minutes long this film was a test for me. For the most part I didn’t enjoy myself and hardly laughed at all. I also became annoyed and distracted by the ridiculous amount of Apple product placement. I know people use Macs and iPhones, but did there really need to be multiple angle panning shots of the suite of Apple products? In saying all of the above I have to also share that the majority of the audience seemed to be having a great time and cheered and laughed a lot. If musicals/musical-comedies are your thing I can only assume that you might have fun with Pitch Perfect; I however, did not.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Jason Moore
Writer(s): Kay Cannon (screenplay), Mickey Rapkin (book)
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: December 6 2012; New Zealand: October 4 2012; USA: September 28 2012 (limited)