Movie Review- Pitch Perfect

by - Saturday, October 06, 2012

 Last night we had a date night to go see Pitch Perfect, because it looked so good in the ads. I have to say, I smiled through the whole thing and it really was a fun little movie. It has been getting a lot of glee comparisons (and to some extent, rightfully so, since it probably wouldn't have been made without Glee), but as the Boy said, it actually feels more like Bring it On (he means this as a big compliment, because he weirdly loves that movie).

 There is a lot to be said for a movie where you can track its influences, but it still comes off as being fresh. Kay Cannon wrote the film based on a non-fiction book of the same name about a capella culture on college campuses. The writing doesn't come off as overly labored or affected, and I appreciated how many inter-character relationships the narrative could handle. Basically a girl is going to college to appease her father rather than follow her dj-ing dreams in LA. She joins a group who had blown it the year before at nationals (but weirdly like 8 of the members had graduated), they get stuck doing the same routines, and some more stuff happens. I don't want to throw out any spoilers, because it really was a fun movie to go see!

The film was written by a woman, and it passes the Bechtdel test with flying colors, but you can kind of sense a  disconnect between the script and the cinematography/ directing. Anna Kendrick's boobs deserve second billing in this movie. You have to love those alternative girls and their extensive collections of push-up bras. Despite the cinematography, the film was cast well, and there is a great combination of actresses and actors in these groups, all of whom seem to be enjoying themselves. You do have to give the director for catching so many of the idiosyncrasies and reactions of the characters, which really are funny.

 Of course, the best of these is Rebel Wilson, who seriously deserves all of the hype she is getting about this movie. She is absolutely hilarious, but even better she is super confident and powerful about who she is. Unlike a certain other performance in a recent female ensemble movie, there is no sense that we as an audience are laughing at someone who is unaware of herself or how she is perceived. She is in control, and the best we can hope for is to laugh with her. Plus, literally every second she is offscreen you are just wishing she would come back.

 I also really enjoyed the love story in the movie, which was not overwrought, partially thanks to Skylar Astin who was a great singer and generally pretty affable. The whole thing felt a little bit much in terms of screen time, but it was pretty fun. Give Skylar more to do Hollywood, because I think he made a great lead. He also had his own second narrative with his room mate, which was pretty sweet.

The music is good, though you can tell it was written a while ago ("You know David Guetta?"). The Boy said he wished there was even more music, which is usually a good sign in things like these.

 I thought Anna Kendrick was really great once she got going, but there was some confusion about why exactly she was so bitter, and so it could get a bit trying. There was a great scene with her at the beginning where you can see her kind of break down, but it feels a little rollercoaster-y with her character's pathos. Plus, I think rebellious girl is kind of played out as a character motivation. At least this time it was clear what she wanted to be doing.

The other major issue that hurts the movie is that so many of the tropes just feel tired. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins played commentators, and it just was TOOO reminiscint of Fred Willard and Jason Bateman in Dodgeball. I wanted to love it, but it mostly felt tired. 
This movie isn't going to blow your mind, but for every replayed trope it worked, and for every other movie it might remind you of, it still mostly feels very fresh thanks to pretty much every performance in the film. The writing really honors those performances by treating all of its characters with love, it really stays out of some of the uncomfortable grey areas that come when people write on women. Many of the stupid narratives that continually come back about how women supposedly treat each other never creep in here. Plus, it is just a really fun movie. I would definitely recommend it.

B's Score- 4.5 N's Score- 4

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