‘Pitch Perfect’ hits all the right notes
Film Review | 4 out of 5 stars
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 07:10
As far as comedy is concerned, “Pitch Perfect” (2012) is a knockout and manages to achieve what recent college comedies have generally lacked: humor.
The storyline revolves around the exploits of a college a cappella group. Although it can be superficial at times, the film resonates with the audience because of the surprising depth of its characters and the creative talent working behind the scenes. Kay Cannon, the Emmy−nominated writer of NBC’s hit series “30 Rock,” successfully weaves together a script that simultaneously mocks the ridiculous nature of a cappella competitions while acknowledging the importance of their development within the musical world. Director Jason Moore furthers the powerful script by drawing on the musical successes of shows such as “Glee” and simultaneously trying to contemporize the genre. Additionally, the musical sets are entertaining, clever and deliver a soundtrack that is just as compelling as the film itself.
Based on the book of the same name by GQ senior editor Mickey Rapkin, “Pitch Perfect” humorously details the innards of the competitive collegiate vocal world. Rapkin’s nonfiction book chronicles Tufts’ own Beelzebubs, along with a cappella groups from the University of Virginia and the University of Oregon, but the film fictionalizes Rapkin’s story as it explores the underground, competitive a cappella subculture.
Oscar−nominated Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, an aspiring DJ forced by her professor father to attend the fictional Barden University in Carolina.
Though the story of her parents’ recent divorce is underdeveloped, Beca uses the divorce as an excuse to rebel against a conventional college experience, much to her father’s chagrin. Eventually, he promises her that if she gives Barden a legitimate chance, he will consider allowing her to drop out and move to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of becoming a DJ. In an attempt to appease her father, Beca auditions for the old−school and outdated all−girls a cappella group, The Bellas.
From the start, The Bellas are cast in the shadows of the immensely popular all−male a cappella group, the Treblemakers. Loosely based on Tufts’ Beelzebubs, the Treblemakers are bold and contemporary, a direct contrast to the more conventional Bellas. In an attempt to modernize the group, Beca suggests that The Bellas use her mash−ups to give the girls a competitive edge. What ensues is an intense rivalry between the two a cappella groups and a forbidden romance between Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin), Beca’s co−worker and a Treblemakers member.
Since Jesse wants to write music scores, he decides to work together with Beca at the school’s radio station. Over the course of the film, their love for music translates into a friendship that encourages the two to discover the importance of music through the a cappella world.
Each member of The Bellas has a distinct personality, and the eclectic group really only comes together when its members harmonize and sing. Though each of the girls has her moments of quality comedy, it is Rebel Wilson — starring as the self−named Fat Amy — who shines above the rest. Rather than joke solely about her weight, she creates a powerful and confident character that delivers a number of clever punches and strong one−liners along the way. Wilson really is the highlight of “Pitch Perfect.” Her dynamic acting cements her place as one of Hollywood’s top comediennes.
That said, not all of “Pitch Perfect’s” jokes hit the right note. For instance, Beca’s roommate, Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), a quiet girl who embodies a number of Asian stereotypes, says a couple of things that are uncomfortable and offensive.
Though the film often crosses the line between clever humor and discomfort, “Pitch Perfect” still manages to deliver most successful jokes that comment on contemporary issues.
“Pitch Perfect” is exactly what young comedy desperately craves: a clever, cool film that provides jokes without following the cliche plotlines ubiquitous in recent comedies. The characters are not continually intoxicated and the girls have fun even when they’re not at a party. Furthermore, the movie’s romance is of secondary importance to everything else happening with Beca and The Bellas.
Early on in the film, Jesse proclaims that “endings are the best part.” This statement does not hold true for “Pitch Perfect” — the best part happens to be the entire film.