Walking into Pitch Perfect, I found myself slightly confused about what it was I was about to embark on. I had only seen the trailer once, a week previously (where I quickly decided I had to see this) but was unsure whether to expect more Glee then High School Musical (there are differences) with a touch of Bridesmaids and The Hangover. I can honestly say after watching the film, that it was the perfect mixture of all those things; so much so that you don’t have to be a fan of any of them and I still think that Pitch Perfect would entertain you.
There are many thoughts running around my head about why this film just works; surely and simply, it’s fun, feel good, musical with all the elements and predictive qualities of a romantic comedy and yet as an audience member you don’t feel that you are going to be second guessing the story all the way along and I honestly don’t think any audience members are going to come to this film ironically either (if you are, your opinion would be changed by the end of the film).
Starring some of the brightest and funniest new young actresses around today, Pitch Perfect, really does showcase what happens when girls are allowed to act like boys in the cinema. Gone are the days where ladies were petite, in the kitchen and lusting after boys and in a post-Tina Fey related world (Mean Girls all the way to Bridesmaids) girls are allowed to barf, they are allowed to fight and they are allowed to get riled up, characteristics traditionally attributed to boys in the cinema. There are constant references and mentions of the John Hughes classic, The Breakfast Club, which really was the first teenage film to allow the outsider an opinion and to show how they could be classed as ‘cool’. Pitch Perfect takes that one step further (or perhaps it further the glee club chain along after Ryan Murphy’s Glee).
Pitch Perfect follows the Barden Belles, an a cappella group who have a lot to live up to. With new girls running the group, Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Aubrey (Anna Camp), they have a lot of responsibility in getting their group to the finals again but before that they have to find enough willing and talented girls to make the group. As well as this, they are constantly pushed out of the spotlight at Barden by their fellow competition, boys group, The Treblemakers. After a brilliantly edited audition sequence where everyone has to sing ‘Since U Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson, the groups find their new intake. This includes Beca (the beautiful Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (the hysterical Rebel Wilson), Lily (Hana Mae Lee) and Cynthia-Rose (immensely talented Ester Dean) for the Belles and Jesse (the perfect leading romantic lead, Skylar Astin) who is of course the romantic interest for angsty, DJ in waiting Beca.
After a lengthy introduction of meeting the various characters, with plenty of music (making it pretty clear this is a musical film), we understand that Beca is coerced into joining the Belles after her dad persuades her to actively do something at college; if after a year she still doesn’t want to be there, he will pay for her to move to LA. Of course at first Beca is adamant she doesn’t sing, until Chloe overhears her singing in the shower because obviously all of us sing like Grammy Award winners when we are giving ourselves a scrub. The film’s entire span follows the group as they work together and argue together; from regionals to nationals to the finals to a smile awing conclusion.
Prior to the new recruits joining, the Belles were known for singing older songs by female bands (note the repetition of ‘The Sign’) and Beca believes this is the reason they aren’t particularly well renowned anymore. After a lot of too’ing and fro’ing and arguments, by the end of the film, they have accepted that Beca is correct and they need to incorporate more mixes with modern music; that is what everyone else does.
Whilst all this is going on, Beca starts to get close to Jesse. He tells her he wants to work on scoring for films, and is constantly amazed at her lack of knowledge in films and that she never gets to the end of a film. The one film he seems to go into depth about is The Breakfast Club, where he tells her an extended explanation about the use of Simple Minds ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’. It is with this song at the end that she wins him over in the end.
So on thinking about Pitch Perfect, it is pretty clear what the two aspects of this film, which make it so much better than any of these other faux-musicals which we have seen recently, are. They are choices in the songs and the brilliant performances from the cast (including their comic timing). The film is very clear to not take itself too seriously, and instead revels in the actors. Take for a moment the laugh out loud Rebel Wilson who plays Fat Amy, who is probably the most quotable character of the film and perhaps of the year. She has brilliant sentiments such as when the leader of the Treblemakers, Bumper asks whether it would be correct or not for them to kiss based on his feeling; she says, “Well… sometimes I have the feeling I can do crystal meth, but then I think, mmm… better not.” She is outrageous and loud and doesn’t care what others think, which is what makes her so brilliant to watch. Furthermore, the rest of the girls in the group don’t necessarily act lady like the entire time from throwing up to fighting, these girls are completely in control. Furthermore, the brief moments with commentators, played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, are hysterical because they are sharp pangs of humour, which come and go but leave a mark.
In conclusion, we may not have had Pitch Perfect without the likes of Glee and Bridesmaids, but I am certainly glad it’s here because I haven’t seen another film in 2012, which has made me laugh out loud so much. Pitch Perfect gets it’s exactly right; balancing likeable characters, a great score, hilarious jokes and brilliant performances.