Pitch Perfect Hits the High Notes
Starring Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, and Rebel Wilson
Directed by Jason Moore
Pitch Perfect is what I expected Rock of Ages to be… FUN! All caps! This was particularly surprising to me since Glee is not historically a television show that I can stand – I don’t pine for ‘90s RnB, and no one has ever accused me of enjoying a capella anything (aca-anything?).
Anna Kendrick plays against quirky type as Beca, an aspiring music producer who has reluctantly agreed to give University life the old college try after her father promises a fully paid trip to LA if she still feels school life isn’t for her at the end of the year. She volunteers at the campus radio station and makes awesome mash-up after mash-up in the hopes of getting airplay. When prodded by her father to try harder Beca decides to be social by joining The Bellas, a hitherto comely competitive a capella team that was decimated by the shame of their ill fated finals appearance last spring. Enter a motley crew of second tier selections lead by Aubrey, the obligatory uptight senior looking for redemption (a perfectly cast and aptly named Anna Camp), and we’re off.
Pitch Perfect doesn’t take itself too seriously, perhaps a symptom of not being set in high school, and while most of the team is composed of caricatures they are remarkably consistent in their motivations. For the most part the audience buys what the actors are selling. I do however need to ask why we required so very many reaction shots from designated “lewd yet funny fat girl” Rebel Wilson. I didn’t make it past the 15-minute mark in Bridesmaids, but apparently it is to that cinematic triumph that I owe this complaint. While mildly amusing when used sparingly, Chris Farley she is not, and a little less Rebel Wilson would have gone a long way.
Moving on to love. The romantic subplot eschews the tired old love triangle and our love interest Jesse isn’t a nebbish dweeb, nor is he the captain of the football team. Refreshingly, the obstacle to true love is also the most authentic part of the story, with our heroine’s conflicted emotions and frustrations preventing her from seeing the light.
I am going to go ahead and hazard that it isn’t a spoiler to reveal that Beca gets the guy in the end. Kudos to director Jason Moore and screenwriter Kay Cannon for not falling back into cliché and relying on an overt public spectacle in order to patch our lovers up. Instead it is a well chosen song and an inside joke that seals the deal… at the finals of course. I will not lie, I melted at that moment and as a result actor Skylar Astin suddenly seemed more subjectively appealing than he had just moments before.
Lest this review become too positive I do have a serious complaint, but it centres on the film going experience rather than the film itself. Film is a visual medium but the sound design is equally important, and my experience at the multiplex really underscored the growing problem of inadequate quality control that has arisen as a result of unqualified staffers replacing professional projectionists. The bass was non-existent and I’m pretty sure the surround was not even on! I found myself repeatedly thinking a) where can I get Beca’s tracks and b) I need to play this at Projection Booth to hear it in all its surround sound glory. This of course lead to another epiphany- theatre proprietorship is spoiling me rotten.
Expect more comments about the exhibition of films as the fall progresses – a move to digital exhibition is no excuse for substandard projection. Bullshit like this at a time when ticket and concession prices have never been higher only serves to drive people out of the cinemas, and no one should want that because film, unlike television, is made to be enjoyed with an audience.
If you haven’t already, get your friends together to see Pitch Perfect and then go for cocktails and maybe even some dancing after! I know I’m headed back for a second go.
BONUS SOUNDTRACK REVIEW
Where are Beca‘s mashups? The production obviously shilled out some serious coin for them and frankly I want them more than the catchy a capellas. Any leads are appreciated.