Pitch Perfect follows reluctant student Beca, one of those cool, alternative girls who wants to strike out to LA and make it as a DJ. Her father, however, insists she does a degree first, in order to have something to fall back on, and enlists her at the University he teaches at. In order to make sure she embraces the college life, Beca’s dad tells her to join a club, to make an effort, and if she still hates it, he will help her move to LA.
Before I start, I want to say this. I really enjoyed this film. It feels like a movie length version of Glee. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is. But outside of that, there’s more to this film, with characters who fill up the screen and manage to keep you invested in each of them, even if one does speak so quietly none of the other characters can hear her.
It’s a fun film, and throughout, it manages to remain funny and engaging, especially when you have characters like Fat Amy on-screen. (Who calls herself that so “twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back”.) There are moments where you just kind of sit back and wonder “what?”, but how can you not love a film that manages to put ‘acca’ in front of so many words?
Anna Kendrick does a brilliant job as Beca, and manages to stop the character from becoming annoying. She makes Beca believable, and likable, and you really root for her. And the relationship between Beca and Jesse just feels so normal and natural. Skylar Astin feels perfect for the part; again, both characters have the potential to be really annoying, but Kendrick and Astin have a nice chemistry and watching them, as a couple they make sense. Case in point; watching the ending of The Breakfast Club, Beca cannot take her eyes off him. He’s completely absorbed in the film, and it’s really sweet. And it’s something very relatable; because, seriously, there’s something oddly hot about seeing someone you like so passionate about something.
Ok, well, there was no doubt from his first scene that I was going to fall in love with Jesse. That guy’s first appearance shows him singing, full blast, to Kansas’ Carry On My Wayward Son. That song is my kryptonite.
Moving on before I start delving into all the reasons Jesse is awesome (cute, film fan, loves Kansas, good taste in music, can sing…*ahem*), the characters really carry the film. Fat Amy is clearly only there for comic relief, but it works, and she has some of the best lines in the film. Bumper is your typical dickhead, and I felt like there was more that could have been done with him. Brittany Snow and Anna Camp (Chloe and Aubrey) are wonderful to watch, and like many of the people involved they have this knack of just bouncing off each other. (Though no one in the film can quite compete with John Higgins and Elizabeth Banks)
I think Kendrick is one of my new favourite actresses (along with Jennifer Lawrence). For some reason, actresses just never really stood out to me before. I can’t remember many films which have women who just make me go “Yeah. They’re amazing.” Maybe it’s just me. But now…I think we’re entering an interesting age of interesting actresses. And it’s refreshing to see a film where the vast majority of faces are new or just not that well-known.
The film has problems. Quite a lot of them, actually. The supporting characters are reduced to clichés; nothing is really done, even when it could be. There’s a lot of unexplored territory here; Luke, for example. There’s a hint that he could maybe come between Beca and Jesse. A hint that there could be more than just him hanging around when they’re stacking CDs. But it’s not used. The film moves fast. Once the basic plot is established, the film leaps from one competition to another. And the music…the music could be so much better! Considering the premise of the film, they don’t utilize the music as much as they could.
There’s a reason love duets are part of films. Look up Richard Dyer’s ideas behind musicals as a utopia. One of the ideas is that characters are able to express their real feelings only through song. And song is where characters otherwise at odds can match each other. Love duets are a massive part of this; they usually represent the moment when characters realise they actually do love each other, and show them coming together. (Best recent example; Rock of Ages, I Can’t Fight This Feeling. Tried to get a video but looks like they’ve all been taken off YouTube.) So maybe this doesn’t have to happen with Jesse and Beca. But half of the time, when Beca sings, Jesse just stands there, grinning like an idiot or looking amazed. He barely gets the chance to show off his own singing!
Pitch Perfect is, in the end, a fun film with a great cast, even if they don’t get the chance to step into their own. It’s worth a watch, as long as you can forgive the pacing. The cast are great, and fingers crossed we get to see those involved in more films in the future.