Film Review: Pitch Perfect

I’ve always turned my back on Pitch Perfect. I’ve had the preconceived idea that unless you wear a skirt and respond to questions with the phrase “yeah, woteva”, the cinematic equivalent of Britney Spears’s Baby One More Time video if you will, that there was no enjoyment to be had from it. That this was a movie that, as a man, you only watched whilst on a date in the hope of securing a second evening with the girl who demanded to see it.

But with Pitch Perfect 2 about to hit the big screen, and with rumblings that it isn’t actually as bad or as stereotypical as I feared, I thought why not. It’s available for free on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video, and while I may not have the girl of my dreams to share it with, when you don’t have to pay to see it, that’s a worthy second prize.

Elizabeth Banks & John Michael Higgins - Pitch Perfect

I must say though, that it’s not half bad. It’s not great but there is more to it than a painful “chick flick” and I will even admit that it kept me entertained. It certainly has its flaws and it is very much an implausible and unrealistic idea rammed into a false existence but that is also a slight strength. Because it’s so wildly removed from real life you don’t believe in it too much or ask too much of it. You accept the characters being hyper extended in personality and the plot being a world that I question if it truly does exist because the tone is right and narrative paced well.

Sadly though, I just didn’t find it overly funny. There are moments that made me laugh, but they came almost exclusively from Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the a cappella commentators, and therefore, aren’t on screen that often. The rest of the time the film just doesn’t feel funny. There is a slight sense of seriousness to it’s script and I’m not sure it’s actually trying to make you laugh for large parts because it’s not a case of poor timing or failed lines, they simply don’t exist. The jokes aren’t there to start with.

Anna Kendrick - Pitch Perfect

Aside from the lack of laughs in what I thought was meant to be a comedy, my other problem with the film is visually the age range just doesn’t gel. I know that is a strange thing to say about a film set in a university where student age and maturity have no limits, but the film seems to suggests that everyone is new and fresh and yet Anna Kendrick looks like she’s old enough to baby sit Adam DeVine and Rebel Wilson just seems at odds with everything and anything. Almost to the point that you wonder if she’s wandered in off another film set. Pitch Perfect is also very basic and shallow in how it relates you to the characters. It simply makes you like the good girls, hate the bad boys and you never really feel like anything deep or meaningful in between. It doesn’t try to force anything on to you, or ask any deep and layered questions, which is good as it keeps the tone light but it goes so far that it starts to feel like a case of boiling everyone down to the simplest common denominator. One plus Two never standing a chance to be anything other than Three.

However, once you’ve realised the level on which the film is set structurally, the most obvious talking point becomes the music and for me it swings wildly back and forth in terms of quality. I felt that it kept teasing you with hints of a quality that never quite get fulfilled. Whether it be Anna Kendrick’s DJ skills producing mixes that have audio potential or group harmonies layering together old and new songs, just as you reach that moment of thinking “that’s really good” just as it’s about to worm it’s way into your mind they cut to something else. The stop button unceremoniously pushed. And it leaves you kind of deflated. It’s like catching the last 20 seconds of your favourite song on the radio, your pulse increasing with slight excitement, before the realisation of its sudden ending leaves you desperately humming the rest in your mind but failing to provide the same sustenance and Pitch Perfect repeats this audio torture over and over and over.

Eminem - 8 Mile A Cappella Rap

Having now seen Pitch Perfect I can see why people like it, and I’m glad it’s got a sequel. It’s a film that draws you in just enough, makes you laugh just enough, keeps you entertained just enough that the thought of spending more time with the characters is pleasant and welcome. It’s a light hearted and fun movie with an unusual plot that takes what is essentially nothing more than a throw away teenage rom-com and spins it into something that feels fresh, although my mind did wander at certain elements to influences from Eminem’s 8 Mile although bigger comparisons are obviously made to Glee (which I’ve never seen so doesn’t influence me). I think it’s true flaw though is that I’m not sure it ever really knew exactly what it wanted to be – full on comedy, simple love story, musical theatre – and instead ends up a weak mixture of all three that feels just a little bit too diluted.

It’s worth watching, but there are better more focussed female lead films out there. Bridesmaids for one.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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