Overlooked Film of the Week- #17
As a film addict, there is nothing I love more than an unexpected surprise. Such is the result after last night's viewing of "Pitch Perfect."
This is odd.
This movie was never remotely on my movie radar, and television's "Glee" left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. As the movie began, things just didn't look promising. As Anna Camp's character Aubrey spouts out some of the lamest, cornball dialogue since Diablo Cody's "Juno." Did you think "Honest to blog?" was bad, wait till you get a load of some of the lines in the first half hour of "Pitch Perfect."
As the film went on, I was ready to make a laundry list of other things to hate about it. But as I started to get to know the characters, their story and what was at stake for them. I began to like how well-made it was. I was impressed how the cast delved into the silly and awkward moments of the script, and etched in the details of those scenes. I actually started to vibe to the movie's musical numbers and *gasp* I started to get emotionally invested in the characters. At the end of the day "Pitch Perfect" is an imperfect gem, but its a gem nonetheless and I think I kind of love it.
The film revolves around Beca (Anna Kendrick) who is a freshman in college. Beca is a grouchy loner and is not very invested in the relationships in her life. Even with her dad (John Benjamin Hickey) who happens to teach at the college Beca attends. Beca wants to move out to Los Angeles and become a music producer, while her father wants her to give college an honest shot. So the duo reaches an ultimatum; Beca has to at least try to enjoy college life, she needs to join at least one club and try it. If she does this and is still not digging school, daddy will help and support her decision to move to L.A.
Beca then joins The Bellas. An all-girl a capella group led by the cutthroat Aubrey (Camp) who dreams of winning the Final Championship and beating The Treblemakers; an all-boy a capella group from the same college. The Treblemakers have won the Championship seemingly ever year and they lord it over The Bellas. So much to the point that Aubrey has outlawed any Bellas from dating any of the Treblemakers.
I know exactly what your thinking. Beca who is usually not invested in relationships eventually comes to really like The Bellas and it will be Beca who tells Aubrey that her iron-handed rule is hurting more than its helping. This sudden change in leadership is what will help transform The Bellas into champions. Oh, and there is obviously a boy named Jesse (Skyler Astin) who is interested in Beca and his moves toward her will be the driving force that will break her tough exterior.
So what? It's a predictable movie, I was having so much fun with it that I didn't care. That is the difference between clever writing and lazy writing. No matter how predictable a movie is, it can still be good as long as it is written well and the story and characters are treated with respect. I can honestly say that is the case with "Pitch Perfect." I have been a fan of Anna Kendrick for awhile now and she does not disappoint here. Skyler Astin's Jesse is definitely my favorite character, as he is a movie-crazed dude which is exactly who I am. Anna Camp is delightful as Aubrey. She's that annoying twit you love to hate in these kinds of stories until she learns her wrongs and corrects them. The transition really works here and Camp sells it perfectly. Brittany Snow also shows up as Chloe who recruits Beca to the Bellas and she does fine work. I have never heard of Adam DeVine before but he plays Bumper the leader of the Treblemakers and he also makes an interestingly evil foil to the Bellas.
Oh, have I mentioned Rebel Wilson yet? Because oh my God she is a force to be reckoned with in this movie. After you watch this movie, it will be apparent that Wilson has stole the show. She plays Fat Amy and she takes the typical "comic relief character" and "typical fat girl character" to unexpected, deconstructionist, glorious heights. Everything...and I do mean EVERYTHING involving the character will make you do nothing but laugh. And Wilson sells every single line, mannerism and hiccup her character makes. I am never a fan of this, but I'd absolutely love a spin-off about Fat Amy, because I think it would work in only the cleverest of ways. I couldn't believe how many tears of humor where shed from her one character, but she pulled it off. Well played Ms. Wilson, well played.
The musical numbers are a ton of fun. When songs are mashed together, they usually pass or fail, not much middle ground. But a lot of the songs in "Pitch Perfect" are groovy and awesome. The dance numbers are equally fun and choreographed to near-perfection. I almost want to go as far as say that "Pitch Perfect" beats "Glee" at its own game, in terms of music, humor and story. I like these characters a lot more, their jokes are better and their music is better.
By now, it is probably pretty clear where you personally stand with "Pitch Perfect." It doesn't pretend to be anything its not, however it takes all of its cliches and conventions and turns them up all the way. The story is so well-told and filled with fun that only a churl could tighten their belt and whale against it. The only thing this movie aims to do is please, and I don't think I can fault it for that.