Movie Review: Pitch Perfect
Pros:Acted with appropriate levels of gusto and rarely hits a bum note with its musical choices.
Cons:The plot feels somewhat cliched and is overshadowed by the array of catchy tunes, while it runs about half an hour longer than it should.
A musical in the Glee sense of the word, Pitch Perfect is fun at times, but never quite hits the heights to which it aspires.
And such is the case with Pitch Perfect – a Glee-esque musical comedy, which references the iconic film that is The Breakfast Club several times, and is filled with familiar teen-comedy concerns, such as fitting in at college and struggling to find or transcend an identity as life in the scary grown-up world looms.
Yet it patently lacks the sheen of cool edginess that The Breakfast Club and John Hughes’ other paeans to adolescence invariably possess, even though it manfully tries to emulate this vibe to an extent.
The story follows the travails of Beca (Anna Kendrick), who has the look and (initially at least) the attitude of a Molly Ringwald-type heroine. However the movie’s true sensibility is revealed by its taste in music, as instead of using relatively obscure songs by cult bands (think ‘Pretty in Pink’ by the The Psychedelic Furs in the movie of the same name), it settles on huge pop songs from various eras.
Accordingly, there are hints of teenage alienation and melancholy at the outset, owing largely to Beca’s mopey countenance – she seems more intent on listening to music and dreaming of being a DJ and producer than engaging with people and immersing herself in college life.
She is subsequently shown to be relatively sensible and unhip though, acquiring popularity in no time as a chance encounter in the ladies bathroom reveals her to be a fantastic singer, with a member of the campus a cappella group swiftly persuading her to join up thereafter.
Eva gradually learns that she is not the only supposed misfit in the a cappella group. The leader of this musically inclined coterie, Aubrey, imposes a dictatorial stranglehold on their creative direction, insisting that each member abides by her stringent rules, while consistently showing hints of animosity towards the more free-spirited likes of Eva.
And while the film may not be as cool as it likes to think, there are still some fantastic moments along the way – an a cappella version of ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ is particularly memorable, given how well it’s innovatively interpreted. In addition, it turns out that Kendrick has a rather excellent voice (as her background as an ex-Broadway star would suggest), befitting of the role.
Moreover, there are plenty of laughs to be had – many of which are provided by the self-deprecating Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), as well as in scene-stealing appearances from Elizabeth Banks (sample line: ‘Nothing makes a girl feel more like a woman than a man who sings like a boy’) and John Michael Higgins in their roles as co-commentators for the movie’s respective talent contests.
Yet in spite of such virtues, Pitch Perfect falls flat elsewhere. The romance between Eva and Jesse (Skylar Astin) seems all too inevitable and lacking any great degree of tension. Meanwhile, despite the superb level of bitchiness that Anna Camp brings to the role, Aubrey ‘s conflict with Beca is also unoriginally executed and thus, uninspired overall, irrespective of the occasional humour it elicits.
Hence, if you want to see a movie with some laughs and a handful of endearing musical numbers, by all means go see Pitch Perfect. But if you’re seeking The Breakfast Club‘s second coming, you best look elsewhere.