Contrary to popular opinion, a good movie doesn’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. Many films follow tried-and-true formulas; what sets the best ones apart are such variables as dialogue and execution. As long as the film entertains and makes people connect to the point of the film, it can borrow an element or two from other films.
Clearly, this is the school of thought the producers of Pitch Perfect were aiming for. I honestly don’t think you could find a more unoriginal movie plot than the one you’ll find in this film. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, but a film like this would have to hit on all cylinders in order to set itself apart. While it certainly has its moments, I think ultimately the soundtrack might outsell the DVD.
Beca (the lovely Anna Kendrick) is a new freshman at Barden University who doesn’t want to be there. You see, she’s totally an independent free-thinker who just wants to move to Los Angeles and make music because she loves it.
Seriously, stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Looking to simply get through the year, she comes across Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow), two members of the Bellas, an all-female a capella group. The prior year, the Bellas managed to make it all the way to the national championships before Aubrey choked it up (literally). With the graduating seniors, the Bellas need to recruit ten new members, filling their positions with incredibly diverse and “interesting” characters such as the quiet Asian (Hana Mae Lee), the large-bosomed sex-monger (Alexis Knapp), the token African-American (Ester Dean), and the…larger-than-life comedy relief, appropriately dubbed Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson).
Meanwhile, the group that won the championships, the all-male Treblemakers, led by the cocky Bumper (Adam DeVine) adds the talented Jesse (Skylar Astin) but cuts his nerdy but lovable roommate Benji (Ben Platt). Jesse is immediately attracted to Beca; the only problem is, the two groups are forbidden from romantic entanglements.
The film goes on and more stuff happens that you’d expect in a teen-oriented rom-com.
– Beca discovers Aubrey is a rigid leader, refusing to try new songs even though Beca totally digs new songs.
– Jesse continues to woo Beca, even though she’s a free spirit and pushes people away from her.
– The Bellas work towards their goal of the national championship while trying to discover their true identities and learn about each other.
And so on. So what’s keeping me from just completely trashing this movie? Well, I’ll admit it, the focus of the movie, the music, is pretty terrific. If you’ve never seen or heard a talented a capella group, it’s something to behold. The coordination, the vocal ability, the rhythm…when everything comes together, it’s an incredible sound. All the actors in Pitch Perfect did a phenomenal job singing their parts. Kendrick in particular displays a talent that I (and I’m sure many in the audience) was previously unaware of.
There’s also a LOT of humor in the film. Rebel Wilson brings a tremendous sense of humor to any movie, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint here. Hana Mae Lee steals the show, though, every time she talks (whispers?). Those two provide the bulk of the laughs in the film, and they do an excellent job.
In general, though, I just couldn’t get completely behind it. Everything about it just screams Glee meets Step it Up meets [insert name of generic teen romantic comedy]. The singing is undeniably good, but the hour of movie that’s all around it is just filler. It’s pretty ironic that for a film that touts taking a chance and trying something new, it fails to try anything new.
My advice? Save your money for the soundtrack.
Pitch Perfect gets a C+.