Point: Pitch Perfect: A so-so but funny film
By Jayson Burns
2.5 out of 5 stars
Click here for the counterpoint.
Lately, there seems to be a really big market for movies about musical groups, usually centered around singing or dancing. I honestly can’t get into these types of films, with the exception of musicals, because their performances actually have something to do with the plot. Still, this year’s Pitch Perfect managed to entertain, even if there were quite a few things wrong with it.
Pitch Perfect follows an all-female college a cappella group called The Bellas, who have been trying in vain to finish first in an international contest. After the majority of their members graduate, the remaining singers organize an audition for the new students. Unfortunately, their catch is less than satisfying with their rival, the all-male Treble Makers, continuing to mock them. Salvation seems to come from Beca (Anna Kendrick), an aspiring DJ who prefers to keep people at a distance. With her excellent singing voice and ambitious attitude, she could very well be the one to inspire the others to win first place, if her new ideas and standoffish behavior doesn’t tear the group apart first.
The plot is pretty much scene-for-scene every other movie about a ragtag group of people trying to win a competition; there’s nothing really original here. Some good jokes are made at the expense of it though, mostly in the form of intentionally pointing out how similar Pitch Perfect is to other movies of this kind.
The tone bothered me through the film. At some points, particularly involving scenes with Beca and her Treble Makers counterpart Jessie (Skyler Astin), the movie seemed to be going for a realistic and relatable atmosphere. Then there are points where the action and dialogue seem more fitting for an Adam Sandler comedy, where characters like Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) seem overtly strange. Neither of these sides is done poorly, but they just didn’t seem to mesh together well enough.
There isn’t much to complain about with the acting, but for the most part, the actors seem like they were a little restricted by their characters. Not that anyone was bad; Anna Kendrick and Skyler Astin made for good protagonists and the more absurd characters were handled well by their actors, but most of them just seemed like one-note stereotypes. Much to my surprise, however, the character who I thought was going to be just a gimmick turned out to be the most likable; Rebel Wilson did a great job at making the outspoken Fat Amy one of the funniest parts of the entire film. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins were also hilarious, even if their characters were distractingly weird.
Not everyone has musical talent, but it’s not too hard to recognize good singing. The only problems with the musical numbers were that sometimes the lip-syncing was slightly off and there were occasions where it clearly sounded like they were dubbed in a recording studio. There was also a scene where a character’s puke was clearly computer generated. Other than that, there wasn’t much else lacking with the production value.
Even though Pitch Perfect was much funnier than I would give a film of its kind credit for, it was really nothing new to the genre. Those who love shows like Glee would probably enjoy this more, but even those who don’t are likely to walk out somewhat satisfied.