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Sep 4, 2013

Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

           Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Ben Platt, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean as, Adam DeVine, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alexis Knapp, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Jinhee Joung, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Freddie Stroma and John Benjamin Hickey


                   Jason Moore


                 Call it "Bring It On" meets "Glee" with a dash of "Mean Girls", Pitch Perfect is actually a good movie. It was one of those pleasant surprises, where you don't expect much from a movie but despite its weaknesses, the good things about it outweighs the bad ones. Now I am a big fan of Glee mainly for its music and specifically for the way the writers incorporate several teen related issues in a mix of silly and dramatic ways. That show was perfect for its first two seasons where it walked a perfect walk between the two extremes but then something went wrong and it became a largely uneven ride. It is not a surprise that a movie somewhat similar to that show's concept was green-lit, taking a good use of the show's popularity, making jokes at their expense and trying to maybe present a better version of it. It is based on the book of the same name by Mickey Rapkin, directed by Jason Moore and written by Kay Cannon. Pitch Perfect is a movie about A Capella groups, about college, friendship, love, female bonding! The movie takes place at Barden University, their all-female A Cappella group had a humiliating loss at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and now they are having difficulties finding new members. The main focus of this movie is on the character of Beca (Kendrick) who is a college freshman. She wants to be a DJ and pursue that career in Los Angeles rather than to attend college but her father is forcing her to study. She tries to fit in the college, joins the school radio station, doesn't attends classes and spends her time mostly with her music. One of the group leaders of Bellas, Chloe (Snow) listens to her singing one day and persuades her to join the group. Many other girls who don't really fit the 'code' joins as well. Aubrey (Camp), the other leader is of a very controlling nature always criticizing others and just wants everything to happens her way. The girls are distraught by her, Beca immediately questions the set list which Bellas have been using for years, the very same over and over. Beca is a rebel, questioning the 'authority' and someone like Aubrey obviously wont let that happen.

                 There is always a guy somewhere right? Beca hangs out with Jesse (Astin) whom she met at the radio station and they both seem to get along very well. He is a member of the Treble Makers, Bellas' rival all-boys group from the same college. Aubrey forbids her group members to see any of those guys. Bellas need to improve, the group members to get along with each other and Aubrey to maybe loose it up a little bit. So much to improve and not enough time. Several mishaps happen in between the competitions, everyday practices and their are songs and witty characters. As much as the premise sounds repetitive at first, this movie somehow finds a way to work with all that and in a much more refreshing way. What I loved about Pitch Perfect was that it was actually enjoyable, lovable and worth the time. Secondly, the songs, the flashy performances and surprising amount of good acting, made up for a much more engaging viewing than i was hoping for at the beginning. Last but not the least, it never mocks nor does it gets too ridiculous but finds a rare heart in the middle of all the cliches. There was something refreshing about how this material was brought forth. Every character is portrayed in a very straight forward light. Like the stereotypes are encouraged to just be themselves head on. During all that, it is made sure that no one is directly mocked or used as a tool to develop comedic situations. Not saying that the characters are well-developed per say but neither do they feel strange or do they ever sound over the top. Their situations are funny because they are funny, playfully played by the actors. Beca is played by Anna Kendrick, a character who is not your typical girl with talent who feels lost everywhere but with herself. Kendrick has this specific quality that she plays her characters in a very straight and in a confident manner and I love that about her. She is witty, not hilarious but its fun to watch her act. I really appreciated Kendrick's performance and the way she played her role without being that annoying girl who needs her life to be defined by others.

                 However the best performance was given by Rebel Wilson playing a character known as Fat Amy. For a second, you might think that her character will be the source of silly laughs on the expense of her physicality right? But that is not the thing here. Wilson who have been in a few movies in minor roles but due to her deadpan but stomach-hurting kind of humor, I have always took a note of her in the midst of big ensembles like Bridesmaids. She plays Fat Amy here, a plus sized woman who doesn't needs anyone pitying her or wants to be the victim. She is confident, all about people standing up for themselves and has so much fun along the way. I couldn't stop laughing at Amy, Wilson is insanely funny. She doesn't go for big moments but even her little tiny gestures or a sudden expression or that one word that she utters from her mouth is enough to give you giggles. There are other actors too like Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin and the other prominent girls in the group all quite fun to watch but no one is as amazing as both Kendrick and Wilson. I really enjoyed the music in this movie. Of course they are sung in pitchy voices, auto-tuned like everything else these days but it is fun. Some of the songs are sung by the actors themselves, Kendrick specially using nothing but her vocals. So its refreshing both ways, embracing the flashy silliness and doing it the right way. There is a thing that these students do when they get together at night and battle it out in what they call "Riff Off". It is one of my favorite moments when they sing songs from the 80's like Madonna etc and songs about Sex and what not. There are many song performances in the movie, many mash-ups like Price Tag, Give Me Everything, Party in the U.S.A, Don't You (Forget About Me), Turn the Beat Around along with others. Yes! "The Breakfast Club" is quoted in this movie as well. Beca never likes movies because she gets bored and never makes it to the end while Jesse loves them and this is his favorite movie. The infamous song is used as well which gives it a nostalgic touch.

                 Pitch Perfect is never mean spirited, it doesn't go for that, never needs to. The college/singing/love craze is what is at the very heart of this movie which it celebrates and makes fun of. The movie itself becomes irresistible as the subject it is based on, with good enough talent and good amount of humor, it becomes a rare delight to watch. These girls are a riot as well, watching them come together as a group is fun.

Grade: B