Posted April 19, 2013 by Alex Moss Editor in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Pitch Perfect



Pitch Perfect owes more than a debt to the likes of The X Factor, High School Musical and Glee.  But Pitch Perfect wants to be different, it wants to stand out from the crowd of other vocalists, even going so far as to actually state, “If you think you can sing and dance your way through any big social issue, or confused sexuality, you’ve come to the wrong place.”  Or have you?  For all its determination to step out from the crowd Pitch Perfect, despite some toe-tapping-tunes and fun characters, is essentially College Glee Musical.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a freshman starting college.  But Beca would rather be in LA, paying her dues in the music industry in the hope of climbing the ladder to record-producing stardom.  Deciding to give college a shot, she joins the Barden Bellas; an all girl a cappella group determined to reach the national championships.  Along with fellow Bellas Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Chloe (Brittany Snow) and controlling leader Aubrey (Anna Camp), they must face down the reigning champions, and college rivals, Treblemakers.  The problem is Beca took an oath not to sleep with any of the members of the Treblemakers and she’s kind of fallen for new recruit Jesse (Skylar Astin).

The ingredients of Pitch Perfect are all there:  Based on the book by GQ and Elle magazine editor Mickey Rapkin, adapted for the screen by 30 Rock and New Girl writer Kay Cannon and directed by Dawson’s Creek alumni Jason Moore, it seems, at least on the team roster, to be the perfect harmony of funny, combined with college dorm room angst.  Yet somewhere along the line both the comedy and coming-of-age drama got lost in the mix.  The repeated references toThe Breakfast Club only highlighting the film’s misgivings rather than helping them.

Beca is the only character given any real flesh, her too-cool-for-school mentality is both fun and identifiable as she quietly judges all those around her.  Her initial response to being asked to join an a cappella group of “Oh, right, this is like a thing now”, perfectly toying with the more cynical viewers’ opinions.  The rest of the cast are nothing more than cardboard cut-outs.  From the comic relief Fat Amy, who does get most of the film’s best lines, to the stuck-up Aubrey, who is the source of a misjudged vomiting gag, you never feel as if you know anything about these people.  As a result the film often lacks chemistry, especially when it comes to love interest Jesse who is essentially a pretty face with good vocals.

And yet, it’s hard not to find yourself getting into the groove of Pitch Perfect.  For all its narrative flaws it still manages to hit the right notes at just about the right time.  The music is never anything less than impressive with some of the numbers almost certain to make you run out and find the soundtrack.  And because, unlike the nauseating Glee, these characters aren’t singing about unrequited love or sexual preferences, it’s never intended to be anything less than fun.

Much of the fun comes from the cast who, despite some weak scripting choices, are all fun to be around.  Brittany Snow, best known for John Tucker Must Die, proves she has some serious vocal talents and solid comic timing which is unfortunately abandoned early on.  Rebel Wilson continues to be brilliant in everything she does, even if everything she does revolves around her being fat and hilarious.  Only Adam DeVine hits some flat notes by attempting to do a villainous Jack Black impression which is both irritating and about as convincing as the real Jack Black.  But once again it is that girl Anna Kendrick who owns the film.  Oscar nominated for her role in Up In The Air, she is never quite given the chance to play her brilliant neurotic chatterbox here but nonetheless injects the dry sarcasm with just the right level of closed-off emotions.  More importantly she demonstrates that she is a hugely talented performer with one scene in particular highlighting some delightfully understated vocals with a mug-tapping accomplishment which should, if there is any justice in the world, give new meaning to the idea of a girl and a cup.

With a bit more harmony in the story department and the avoidance of one or two bum-notes Pitch Perfect could have been exactly what it says on the tin.  Instead it will have to settle for a fun little chorus with just enough laughs and tunes to keep you smiling with a bit of humming.

Pitch Perfect is available to pre-order now and to buy on Blu-ray and
DVD with Ultraviolet™ and Digital Download from 15th April.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com