“PITCH PERFECT” Review (✫✫)

Special appearance from the cast of “Glee”!  

Pitch Perfect is a predictable, formulaic film, a movie enveloped in its conventions, forcing in cliche characters, and bolstered only by its joyous music, which cannot help but seem misplaced in a movie like this.  It’s the sort of movie that doesn’t deserve the word “perfect” in its title.  I’d offer an alternative title, something shorter and more subtle such as simply Pitch, but I’ll advise against that for the fear of people mispronouncing it.

The story begins on a young and rebellious Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick), an aspiring DJ who dreams to one day become as popular as Skrillex or David Guetta (80’s kids, look them up on wikipedia).  Her father however, who just happens to be a professor at Barden University, encourages her to become more immersed in her education and to get more involved on campus.  Beca hates school and hates socializing even more, but will put up with it because her father will help her out with her DJ career if things don’t pan out at school like he wants them to.

She gets a job as an intern at a radio station, and ends up joining the Bellas, a group of diversified female singers who all compete at an acappella competition at the end of the year.  These girls are Aubrey (Anna Camp), the snotty, stuck-up leader of the Bellas, Chloe (Brittney Snow), the more civil and more approachable Bella out of the group, and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), a woman who is determined to throw herself out there despite her weight and her unattractive appearance.  Just so you know, I’m not calling her “Fat Amy” on purpose.  That is the specific name she instructed the Bellas to call her when they mistakingly called her “Amy”.  I’ll bet her mother is proud of that, hearing her daughter wanting to be called Fat.

The Bellas were disqualified from the last competition because Aubrey vomited all over the front row of the audience last year (believe me, that wasn’t a pretty sight to see).  Aubrey, as a result, is even more strict about protocol, behavior, and song selection than before, and so now she functions as a sort of an acappella Hitler to these poor college girls who are just trying to find their place at this university.

Let me say something here: there is something seriously wrong with your picture if your best comedy comes from a girl called Fat Amy and the worst involves girls swimming in pools of vomit.  That’s not figurative, by the way, that is a literal reoccurring joke in the picture.  This is perhaps the biggest problem with the picture over everything else: the comedy is not funny.  It is not original, clever, precise, or even remotely well-written.  It is unbelievable, insincere, forced, and extremely ham-fisted.

Why do I say this?  Because not a single laugh was genuine.  Nothing was funny.  The jokes all involve typical cliches or moronic conventions, things you can find easily on a television network like ABC or Nickelodeon.  What other examples do I need to give, besides the vomit jokes?  How about awkward parents, preachy life lessons, bad singing, rapping, stereotypes, hazing and topics about sex?  I’ll thought I was watching a musical here, not an episode of “Kids In The Hall”.  

Oh yes, this film is not funny, but even worse are its characters, who are so unbelievable and overly-dramatized that they can only be in a movie.  These girls are an annoying, rambunctious sort, a group of absent-minded drama queens who worry only about what tradition they uphold or which boys they are sleeping with.  I know they’re meant to be seen as overly-expressive college archetypes, but for Pete’s sake, at least try to be more creative.  “High School Musical” had more interesting characters than this.

Anna Camp is both spoiled and paranoid, a woman who is an over-exaggerated negative picture of sorority girls.  Snow is meager, idle, and useless, there only to inspire Beca to join the Bellas, but not much else since she’s so passive when confronting Aubrey.  Kendrick is good as Beca, but not really that compelling, and even when she first appears on screen we get a sense that the script is going to force us through some deep, meaningful character romance even though it isn’t really that deep or meaningful.  The most compelling and talented actress here is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy, who is so spirited and so enthusiastic in her role that she ends up more appealing than any of the other sorority brats in this movie.  Her attitude and her humor was uplifting and energetic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she served as a sort of inspiration for overweight girls everywhere.  Dare I say I was turned on by her energy?  No, but she was close.  Really close.

Ultimately, Pitch Perfect is a flat, typical experience.  It provides nothing we haven‘t seen before and its immature handling only reveals more of its desperate copycat nature.  Why, then, am I giving it two stars when it’s story clearly deserves one?  That is because of the music.  If the movie accomplishes nothing else (and it doesn’t), it has the most beautiful covers and acappellas I’ve ever heard, even better than what most of what the TV show “Glee” produces.  There was one great moment where Kendrick even does an original acappella with only her voice, hands, and a plastic cup to use at her instruments.  That does not happen by insincere chance, fellow readers.  That is genuine, passionate talent, one that is evidenced in every beautiful note in these acappellas (although I don’t understand how a woman is capable of singing in baritone.  That’s another issue though).

Oh boy, am I going to get roasted for this.  What, I wonder, do people find so entertaining about this movie?  Look, I don’t expect a perfect film.  I don’t go into these things expecting to dislike them from the outset.  All I ask is that you have good singing, a solid story, and appealing characters for me to appreciate.  Here, the singing is incredible, but the dialogue is flat, the story is predictable, and the characters are more annoying and high-strung than the Kardashians.  Pitch please.

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