Movie Review: Pitch Perfect
Director: Jason Moore
Reviewed: 9 February 2013
Maybe it is Anna Kendrick's charm as a DJ-obsessed outcast in college who can really sing? Or Rebel Wilson's wonderfully funny turn as the self-anointed Fat Amy who belts out songs with passion? Or maybe the evocation of the cutthroat world of collegiate a capella complete with "Best In Show" type announcers Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins? Regardless, "Pitch Perfect" is a surprisingly sweet and funny film with true fervor for its performed songs. I was pleasantly surprised.
Don't get me wrong. There's quite a bit that doesn't work. Kendrick's freshman Beca has an inconsistent relationship with her professor father, a teacher on Barden College's campus who only appears when the plot needs him to appear. Wilson's Fat Amy only exists in the context of the a capella group, though it would have been hilarious to have more of her interacting with college students, attending (or not attending classes), or in general, more screen-time. The dynamic between Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany) fails to capture the reasons why they love a capella and the Barden Bellas or wherever they are destined to go after college. There are so many other members of the Bellas that are underdeveloped or ignored in the script. And the film at times seems to be building the all-male a capella group into the antagonists, but then abruptly switches that up.
The film covers its subject matter with a seriousness that at first seems mock and then is completely sincere. However, the laughs are genuine, and the music competitions are quite fun to watch with modern songs and impressive choreography. Obviously, "Pitch Perfect" springs forth from the work that "Glee" has done in layering in the personalities of a singing group set against the backdrop of the ticking clock that is always Regionals. (Is there a more daunting, catch-all word for the moment of truth in today's world than Regionals?) Wilson is a star, given so much to do compared with her hilarious near-cameo in "Bridesmaids," and she shows confidence and verve. "Pitch Perfect" could have easily turned into The Rebel Wilson Show, and Jason Moore contains her character of Fat Amy, giving us small doses of her hilarious line readings, not allowing her to sideline his story. But Wilson is easily the most fun performer to watch, and though Kendrick does a fine job carrying the bulk of the plot, it is impossible not to wonder what Rebel Wilson could have done with more screen time.
And, it is impossible not to wonder if Fat Amy should have been the story?