Pitch Perfect hits theaters in an era where society constantly tells us — thanks to TV shows and movies like Glee, American Idol or High School Musical — that music and dance provide expressive outlets for socially awkward underdogs. This story has been done so many times and in so many different scenarios that the healing power of music has quickly turned into a cliché.Pitch Perfect is no exception.
But though the film boasts nothing but predictable storylines, and the characters resemble carbon-copy archetypes of every “team-overcoming-everything” story, Pitch Perfect manages to turn something familiar into a fully entertaining spectacle — just as its a cappella groups revitalize popular songs with the right amount of rhythm, charm and laughs.
The movie follows Barden University freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick), who, under her father’s pressure to make friends and because of her attraction to music, decides to join The Bellas, an all-female a cappella group. The Bellas — filled with myriad eccentric characters including a control freak, a near-mute pyromaniac and a girl that calls herself Fat Amy — are attempting to redeem themselves after an embarrassing loss at Nationals.
The audience knows what’s going to happen before the movie even begins. Spoiler alert: The Bellas are going to win nationals and Beca is going to end up with Jesse (Skylar Astin), even though he’s a member of the rival group. Yes, Pitch Perfect is that kind of film. But though the audience might predict every element of the plot, that’s ok: a sophisticated narrative not the point of the story.
Pitch Perfect’s goal is really to take us through a journey filled with enchanting performances and mind-blowing vocal numbers.
That’s not to say the story is not filled with wit and hilarity. Most of the comedy is dialogue-based (the use of the prefix “a ca-” to everything never gets a ca-old), which is appreciated given the characters’ witty banter. But the comedy extends past the lead actors’ lines. Even the competition narrations alone are enough to fill a Twitter comedy account for days.
Pitch Perfect also dazzles with charming performances. Anna Kendrick charms her way into one of her first lead performances as Beca, the alternative chick with the hidden talents that will save the doomed group. Kendrick is cute, likable and vocally talented: She holds her own throughout the entire film, although it’s mainly because she is supported by equally good performances from her fellow Bellas.
There’s Brittany Snow as Chloe and Anna Camp as Audrey, the group veterans that resist any sort of change to their traditional performances — at first. Their performances might seem kind of cartoonish, but audiences buy that because Snow and Camp can sing in perfect harmony. Then there’s Skylar Astin as the completely dreamy and just-as-talented love interest, Jesse, who doesn’t seem to show a single flaw throughout the entire film.
Elizabeth Banks (who also happens to be one of the producers of the movie) and John Michael Higgins appear in small roles as the hilarious competition commentators. They are definitely one of the highlights of the film, and arguably deliver the funniest lines. The cameo appearance of Christopher Mintz-Plasse (a.k.a. McLovin’ from Superbad) is also a treat.
Finally, there’s Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. Wilson undeniably steals every scene and garners laughs from every piece of dialogue she delivers. Wilson has a true talent for comedy, and this role serves as her perfect outlet, even more so than her role in last year’s Bridesmaids. Keep an eye on her. She’s going to be big — and not “fat” big, either.
But Pitch Perfect would not be as entertaining if it weren’t for the true protagonists of the movie: the musical numbers. Anyone who’s been to an a cappella show can attest to the fact that its attraction and appeal lies in energetic performances and vocal arrangements made from popular songs.
Pitch Perfect delivers this. From an outstandingly edited and framed rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” to the film’s fantastic final number, which takes snippets from popular pop songs and old classics, Pitch Perfect astounds. If the performances or story aren’t strong enough, the numbers will surely steal at least a couple of smiles from even the most skeptical viewers.
Pitch Perfect will not make history of any kind and is not a milestone inside the breakout-in-song-and-feel-better genre. It is, however, time (and money) well spent. The razzle-dazzle of the numbers and charm of the performances are enough to compensate for the flaws and predictability of the script.
But that’s sometimes what audiences need: a simple, mindless, fun movie that reminds them singing along is just fine.