Pitch Perfect Review
I am, in the parlance of nerd gaming culture, a tread head. In other words, tanks are my favorite thing to play. I have always played better driving a tank than any other type of FPS, and I think in a previous life I must have been a tank crewman. One of the things I love about tanks is they have absolute singularity of purpose. They are designed to kill stuff on the outside while keeping the stuff on the inside safe. You can’t use them to drive the kids to church, plow a field, or tailgate at a football game. In this day and age of multi function devices they are absolutely assured of their one place in the world and nothing will ever budge them from that.
Why, you ask, would I start off a review of a chick flick like Pitch Perfect talking about tanks? Because Pitch Perfect is diametrically opposed to the idea of singular purpose. It almost defies categorization. It is sort of a comedy, sort of a chick flick, sort of a romance film, sort of a Glee rip off, sort of a coming of age film, and sort of a sisterhood story. It has all the focus of a cheap security camera at the bottom of a 50 gallon drum of petroleum jelly, yet in spite of all that is weirdly engaging and entertaining.
I’m actually disappointed in that. I chose this film hoping it would be as bad as all logic and every trailer indicated it would so I could come home and tear into it like a jackal with a freshly killed gazelle. After the run of decent movies I have seen lately I need something to sharpen my teeth on. However, once I got over the testicle shrinking experience of sitting in a theater filled with more estrogen than a Lilith Fair I found to my surprise I was actually laughing at moments, and for some reason really liking the characters. Even the dumb acapella jokes (“Aca-excuse me?!”) had me laughing.
The story itself is as vapid and insubstantial as possible without actually being written by the Kardassians, and after a while the singing will have your ears bleeding if you aren’t yourself an acapella fan, but the characters and jokes are enough to carry it through. Don’t misunderstand me. This is not a great movie. You will not learn or feel anything amazing by the end of this film. It will not touch you emotionally or inspire you to be closer to your loved ones. The best you can hope for is the modest satisfaction of filling another 112 minutes of your individual journey towards oblivion. However, like a popsicle made of Kool-Aid in an ice cube tray with tooth picks, it is better than nothing.
One thing this movie did for me was remind me of why college kids are the preferred target of horror movie monsters and serial killers. 20 minutes into this film and I was ready to go chainsaw shopping. However, another 20 minutes in I had gotten to like a lot of them enough to not want this movie to turn into another Friday the 13th (Creature from the Black Lagoon image courtesy of the Horror Movie T Shirts).
The other thing to remember going into this film is the entire premise of the film is based around the idea that acapella singing is the end all and be all of everything cool in the universe. Remember a few years ago when there was a movie about a national karaoke contest that had a huge cash payoff? Well, let me tell you this sort of thing does not really ring true. The whole concept felt forced and fake all the way through.
The story is extremely derivative. See if this rings any bells. Young, anti social but heartbreakingly cute girl goes to a new environment where she meets a struggling group striving to win the big award at something and by the end is pulled from her shell in order to give them their best chance at victory. In this case the hot anti social girl is Beca (Anna Kendrick-Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, 50/50, Twilight), a wanna be DJ (number 6 on the top ten loser jobs that sound really cool when you are 18) and the new environment is Barden University, the lamest college in the history of education. It is so lame that all normal forms of college fun-frats and sororities, sports, drugs and alcohol, sex-as well as all scholastic priorities must take a back seat to the coolest activity ever: acapella singing. She (correctly) decides it is lame when the head of the Bellas Audrey (Anna Camp-the Help, Forgetting the Girl, 8 Easy Steps) and her friend Chloe (Brttany Snow-Hairspray, John Tucker Must Die, Prom Night) try to recruit her. She gets convinced to try out when Chloe hears her sing in the shower. We are also introduced to the real comedic force behind this film Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson-Bridesmaids, the Wedge, What to Expect When You are Expecting). She was honestly funny and enjoyable.
The rest of the crew is rounded out with a few oddballs. There is the incredibly soft spoken Asian who is secretly more messed up than any of them (Hana Mae Lee-no other film credits. She had a role on Workaholics), the black lesbian (Nicole Lovince-also first movie role. She was in Worst. Prom. Ever.), the local slut (Shelly Regner-another newcommer.), and a few others. Their big competition is the Treble Makers, the all male acapella champion group lead by self obsessed jerk Bumper (Adam DeVine-Adam from Workaholics). There is a guy who Beca has a thing for (Skylar Astin-Hamlet 2, Talking Woodstock) and some other nerd (Ben Platt-no other roles) who are either on the Treble Makers or dream of it. If you have seen Bring it On and more than a couple episodes of Glee I pity you but you pretty much know the story.
The stars. While the story sucked and the premise blew, I have to say I really got to like all the characters in this film. Great job in casting IMO. One star. Most of the girls were extremely easy on the eyes. One star. There were some honestly funny dialog moments. One star. There were two vomiting scenes that had me laughing my ass off. Something about otherwise well put together and attractive people puking makes me laugh like nothing else. One star. The sub plot with the bitchy roommate I thought well played, as well as the total nerd dude. Very much reminded me of college. One star. Generally stupidly fun. One star. Total: six stars.
The black holes. The story would make my high school AP English teacher kill herself. One black hole. The premise that there are more people who care about acapella singing than the people actually doing it is incredibly lame. One black hole. There was definite musical accompaniment for a lot of the acapella singing, and I have to say if you are not a fan the music grinds on you after a while. One black hole. The entire movie is a mashup of Glee, Bring it On, and Bridemaids with a light dusting of Animal House and West Side Story. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
A grand total of two stars, which is literally about seven higher than I expected to give this film. This movie was clearly not made for me or anyone with two functioning testicles, so if Glee-ish chick flicks do something for you I don’t think you will be disappointed. However, don’t expect this movie to make you feel at all macho. Date movie? You should never ever suggest this one but if she does I’d say yes. You see, if a girl subjects you to this film and then doesn’t reward you with sex then you know that she is secretly a sadist and you are better off dumping her before she locks you in her oubliette. Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere you like. There isn’t a lot in here that I would consider necessary, and at 112 minutes you will need something. If I had to pick a moment I’d say the bus ride to finals after Fat Amy gets hit with a flying burrito.
I will say one last thing on this movie and that is if acapella singing gets a film then I can hope for a Warhammer movie in there someday. I kind of see myself cast as the villain in that one, and I don’t think a lot of my friends would argue with that. Honestly I would be willing to bet it would be at least as interesting, if missing a lot in distaff actors. If any producers are interested in working out a concept feel free to contact me.
Thanks for reading. More to see this week. Hopefully something out there will really suck and give me something to tear apart (what’s that you say? There is a new Kevin James movie this Friday where he becomes an MMA fighter? Score!!!). Actually I have a Warhammer tournament this weekend (Infernal Zoo) so I don’t think I will be able to write a new review until Sunday night. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Feel free to post any comments on this film or my review on it here, and if you have any off topic questions or suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.