Friday, December 21, 2012

Pitch Perfect

This is sure to be a controversial review to whoever reads it, but I have pretty strong opinions about "Pitch Perfect". Let me first just say, I don't dislike these kinds of movies in general. There are plenty of female-focused movies that I have enjoyed quite a bit. Having said that, I really was not looking forward to seeing this film. Lara and I went with some friends of ours, and while I probably would have seen any movie with them just because they're fun to hang out with, I just had a feeling this would be hard for me to sit through. For one thing, it reminded me (in a bad way) of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" from the humor they were selling as well as sharing many of the same cast members. Anyone who's read my review knows that I wasn't a fan of what that film was trying to do, so going to see a movie so similar was really not appealing to me. I will try to be as objective as possible, but, fair warning, if you really enjoyed this movie there might be some feelings hurt by the end of this review.

The film centers around Beca, an outcast of sorts who is only going to college to appease her father, a professor at the university she attends. Beca really only wants to be a DJ and move to LA, often shirking her educational responsibilities to construct mix tracks in her bedroom. However, when she is heard singing in the girl's bathroom one day, a prominent member of the Barden Bellas, an all-girls a cappella group, invites her to audition. She and an odd group of girls eventually make the cut and they compete against their rival group, the all-male Treble Makers. Together, the Barden Bellas must learn to put aside their differences in order to defeat the Treble Makers at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

The story sounds pretty straight forward, like 90% of all other teen comedies, with a few minor adjustments. The thing is, this movie has no idea what it wants to be. On one hand, it has all these scenes of incredibly broad comedy, and then tries to take itself seriously with ridiculously forced "emotional" exchanges between Beca and her father. This movie played like an R-rated frat comedy that held back just enough to warrant the PG-13 rating. A lot of the comedy in this film might work better for me if it were a little more subtle, or at least not so repetitive. There are scenes where the leader of the Barden Bellas spouts projectile vomit from her mouth, not once, but three times. I can't tell you how many music-themed puns are thrown out during the film. Even on the poster they can't resist spoiling one of the only puns that I found amusing.

Despite all the things that I disliked about the movie, I cannot deny that some of the musical scenes are pretty enjoyable. Particularly the final performance by the Treble Makers where a barely seen character finally gets a moment to shine (even though it doesn't really make me root for the Barden Bellas to win...). There is also a nice little parallel between Bela's DJing and how the group uses those mixes to change up their act.

Regardless of whatever portions of this film I could enjoy, this script is a mess. It's infuriating that the movie tries to make parallels to "The Breakfast Club" while cherry-picking musical numbers from Glee (of all things) and implementing comedy on the same caliber as films like "Scary Movie 3". Even the characters that I occasionally found amusing (the announcers played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins) consistently go too far with their "funny" anecdotes. This movie is a complete mish-mash of genres that aren't constructed well enough to make sense, let alone coalesce into an enjoyable experience.

Having said all that, however, I know for a fact that the other three people in our group actually liked the movie (to varying degrees), and I can't completely trash it as a result. Girls always seem to be more game for this style of comedy than guys, as I said during my review for "What To Expect When You're Expecting". Even most critics found more to like about "Pitch Perfect" than I did, though I really don't understand how. So, because of the positive experiences of those around me, I'm giving this movie a generous two stars.

PITCH PERFECT is rated PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references.