Remember back in college when everyone was trying to get in with all of the cool kids singing a cappella? Remember how there was a regional broadcast featuring head to head competitions of these bands singing covers of the overrated pop hits of today? No, but just because a film has a completely implausible premise, doesn’t mean that it is good or bad in any way. But there is a lot working against this movie that more than does the job.
Director Jason Moore presents us with a feature length film that is the a cappella version of films like Bring it On, Step Up and Save the Last Dance. This, of course, leads to an inevitable, cookie cutter film that practically screams the next step of the plot, regardless of the lack of activity taking us from one event to the next.
The film stars Anna Kendrick as Beca, an alternative city kid who is brought to the rural town to go to Barden College. She is an aspiring disc jockey and musician who feels that her small town cannot possibly provide her with the opportunities and scenes of Los Angeles. However, her father will not pay for her travels unless she makes a legitimate effort to do something with herself at college. So, before long she happens upon the Barden Bella’s, an all-female a cappella group that has fallen on hard times after an embarrassing defeat at least year’s finals that prompted all its former members to quit in shame. Now, the Bella’s have assembled a rag tag group of highly unorthodox ladies who need to come together to work as a team so – do I even need to go on?
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the movie is the characters themselves. Beca is a completely unlikable, specifically anti-social, pretentious would-be smart aleck who continuously pushes everyone away regardless of any legitimate lack of reason. And what’s worse, toward the beginning of the third act when she has her big epiphany; the moment when the protagonist must steel themselves to become who they were always meant to be at the final conflict, her reasoning for why she pushes away everyone important in her life is, “I don’t know.” What’s more, aside from Beca, Fat Amy – played by Rebel Wilson – and Aubrey – played by Anna Camp, none of the characters are very memorable for anything other than what they did. Each one is given a quirky character trait, and that is the entire basis for their character; there are no further inklings of development beyond each of their finite individual quirks.
The musical performances themselves are actually quite well done, particularly the “riff off” scene done in a drained pool. One might ask why the pool is drained regardless of the weather, or why there is no indication of inclimate weather considering this takes place primarily around winter, but that’s beside the point. Despite how each of the songs are well choreographed and performed, they all suffer from one insurmountable difficulty; they go for about one minute too long each. The film has no less than 10 musical numbers, each one featuring a nearly complete rendition of each song, to round out a nearly two-hour run time. And without a deeply ingrained appreciation of today’s pop hits, it will strike all the wrong chords.
There are legitimate comedic moments in this film that will leave the audience laughing, however it is not from the 20-something starlets littering the cast. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins completely create the humor of the film with their apparently improvised banter as the retired commentators of the singing competitions. There are other sporadic enjoyable moments; however, they are about as memorable as anything else in this movie is.
Pitch Perfect is a cheap cash in on a budding fad, and it’s apparent with its complete lack of attempt to create an original storyline or characters that are little more than walking punch lines. This movie will have a high appeal to Tweens, pop music aficionados and anyone who watches Glee strictly for the music. Beyond that, it will not offer anything that audiences aren’t already sick of. One star out of four.
Watch the trailer.