Thanks to the University of California Riverside chapter of the Her Campus online magazine for coordinating a special screening of Pitch Perfect, which lets me review it a full week before it hits wide-release.
Imagine Glee mixed with Mean Girls, with just a tad of Best in Show. You’d end up with something like Pitch Perfect, a witty and clever look at the world of collegiate a capella, with just enough catchy music numbers to satisfy musical enthusiasts as well.
We follow the story of Beca (curiously spelled with only one “c”) played by Anna Kendrick. She’s an incoming first-year who wants to DJ and create mashups. I’m in love already. Well, a strange sequence of events introduces her to the Barden Bellas, a down-on-their-luck a capella group looking for new blood.
Kendrick plays a convincing lead, though her angsty attitude does become a little overbearing at times (but maybe that’s the point?). The central love story is believable and doesn’t detract from the main story too much, which is nice. I was hoping for a more unconventional ending though. At one point, Kendrick says that movies are predictable. Sadly, Pitch Perfect was pretty predictable as well.
The chemistry between the girls was nearly perfect, as each girl brought a unique quirk to the group. The scene-stealer was no doubt Fat Amy (played by Rebel Wilson). Nearly every line she said was comic gold. She made this movie.
In general, the movie was hilarious. It’s witty and self-referential in a way that completely works. Some characters are completely buying into this a capella world, so it’s great when characters on the outside point out how ridiculous it is to have a sing-off in the quad. Glee acts like singing is completely normal, where Pitch Perfect reminds you that it’s absolutely crazy.
The other standout in terms of laugh moments came from leader of the opposing group The Treblemakers, played by Adam DeVine (Workaholics). His humor is very similar to his style on Workaholics but it’s strangely convincing in this setting.
I have to applaud the work done in the musical numbers as well. In addition to incredible moments of laughter, the movie also nails its musical numbers with a soundtrack that I’m streaming on Spotify right now. It’s a perfect balance that doesn’t make you feel guilty for loving that amazing a capella.
And lastly, the movie smartly paces itself a little differently than most competitive underdog stories. The Barden Bellas never really hit their stride like you’d expect until the climax. I loved watching them struggle, as opposed to realizing the key to success in the middle of the film. It makes you want to root for the underdog even more, when you watch how hard it is for them.
What doesn’t work?
There are only a few moments that pull you out of the realism of this movie, which is strange considering the a capella culture and how foreign that might be for most audiences. The first is Anna Kendrick’s extreme anti-commitment attitude. She’s too alternative. After three or four bouts of “I don’t need anyone’s help!”, I was starting to get tired of the schtick. We get it! Get over yourself.
The other outlier was the nearly-impossible-to-hear Lilly, played by Hana Mae Lee. Her “thing” is that you can barely hear her at all. At the beginning, this is hysterical, but I have a feeling like the director went too far with it and ruined a good thing. At one point, you start hearing her mutter crazy little comments but it escalates too quickly and ruins the joke (and the packed theater I was in was silent). Just a case of overdoing it.
Pitch Perfect is hilarious. It’s funny but also contains some incredibly infectious a capella songs that will have you tapping your foot without even realizing it. The ensemble cast works great together and each lady brings a unique piece to the larger puzzle. Rebel Wilson carries the laughter the entire way and never disappoints. To anyone that appreciates music and wants to laugh nearly nonstop for 2 hours, Pitch Perfect is an obvious choice.