Movie Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Universal Pictures
Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for sexual material, language, and drug references)
Director: Jason Moore
Writers: Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson
Comedy | Music | Romance

Young “Beca” (Anna Kendrick) is a freshmen at Barden University, but as much as she finds herself surrounded by new people and potential friends, she is more wrapped up in her own little world of music. She carries her computer with an advanced sound program on it and large headphones around nearly everywhere. Mostly estranged from dad through “stepmonster” (her own term of anti-endearment for the step-mom), she isn’t all that easy to get to know, but compared to her new roommate, she comes in just likable enough.

From the moment she sets foot on campus, she is offered an opportunity to sing for The Barden Bellas. They need new talent to go up against their Acapella archenemies, the all-boys band known as The Troublemakers. But Beca refuses—until she is hassled into changing her mind. But even when she’s finally into the swing of things, it’s not one big happy party.

Her fellow band members are all different people, an out-of-bounds combination of slutty, crazy, confused, and generally oddball-ish. The only thing they have in common is that they sing beautifully together. And while Beca has a lot to offer the group, her own internal dissatisfaction causes friction, not just in a budding romantic relationship with opponent and fellow record shop employee, “Jesse” (Skylar Astin), but with the band’s bitch-ily old-fashioned leader, “Aubrey” (Anna Camp). With her retro-fied musical re-styling and the new direction she wants to take the band, tensions begin to build to the boiling point. They’ll either learn to work together or go crazy trying (or possibly a little of both).

In Pitch Perfect, it is college life on display all over again, and compared to so many successful pre-teen-targeting movies before it, the new styles and retro-isms are more outlandish than ever before. In fact, the movie counts on them. Everyone in the film is an epitomized stereotype of geek, Goth, loser, blowhard, or all-round drama-queen. These exaggerated personas become annoying, and at times, unnerving.

Not a one of these stereotype-reliant characters are an immediate sell, but we are slowly won over by, not so much them, but the story—while sometimes cringing at the cartoonish comedy that seldom draws a laugh. In that time, we get neologisms like “aca-bitches,” “aca-awesome,” and “pitchslapped” until we start to want to bleed through the ears. But we don’t only for one reason—the cool retro-remastering of musical hits from songs going back to the 70s to modern times. It is a catchy affair, this film (if a trade-off of quality for determined performances).

And even with talent in the form of Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, and Christopher Mintz-plasse, Pitch Perfect is no Bridesmaids, but it only has to be somewhat like it. “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson) brings back her talent to a movie whose characters' extreme projections can be on a merry-go-round of like/not-like, but herein is found a sense of redemption and growth and something to walk away from with a sense of appreciation. Kendrick’s performance – and those of her co-stars – exhibit a good helping of dedication.

As far as I am concerned, no truer statement could be made but that the movie itself is a testimony that quality pieces of musical art transcend the times in which they were created.