Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore, 2012)
There’s not a whole lot to say about this film. It follows the story of Beca (Anna Kendrick), a disaffected first-year college student whose divorced father – a professor at Barden University, the school she attends – has strong-armed her into an attempt at “legitimate” study, rather than allowing her to follow her dreams and move to Los Angeles to produce music. In an effort to convince Dad that she can fit in, Beca joins a disgraced female a cappella group on campus, the Barden Bellas, and through pluck, perseverance and the brilliance of her musical arrangements, leads them to the national singing championships. Along the way, she finds love, loses love, makes friends, loses friends, fights with Dad, makes up with Dad, and eventually becomes a whole person – disaffected no more! – in a gloriously happy ending. If you’re looking for mindless formulaic feel-good entertainment, this will satisfy.
The acting and singing are pretty solid, with Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, and Skylar Astin all relatively appealing in their respective roles (though Dean and Lee are used in questionably stereotyped ways as an African-American butch lesbian and a quiet and reserved Asian). Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are also great fun as a pair of snooty a cappella judges. People who enjoy the TV shows Glee and The Sing-Off will find much to love in Pitch Perfect‘s set pieces.
One of the things that has always bothered me about Glee, however, is the way in which the rehearsal process and hard work behind performance is compressed or not even shown. People – even good singers and dancers – are rarely able to spontaneously sing and dance in perfect harmony with others, and in beautifully composed arrangements, without significant practice. True, musical shows and films have always taken liberties with the labor behind the magic, and if we like the music we rarely complain. But Glee is partly about the process of creation, itself, and so its ellipses annoy me more.
Compared to Pitch Perfect, however, Glee is a marvel of detailed performance logistics. So be forewarned. Leave behind your desire to watch a believable story and embrace the madness, and you may just have a good time.
One thing that I really liked a lot about the film was its marketing campaign. And not the poster, above, but these little teaser banners, below. Enjoy!