From the trailers, god-awful TV Spots, and stomach-churningly horrible posters that were released for Pitch Perfect, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a quick cash-in on the success/popularity/inescapability of Glee but it’s something much better (and less malignant) than that.
Quick plot summary – Becca is a freshman at college who’s pressured into joining an extracurricular group by her father. She joins the disgraced Bellas, an accapella group who’re looking to reclaim their former glory after a humiliating performance at the previous years’ finals. Despite her love of mixing songs and dreams of becoming a music producer, she finds herself growing into the role of a songstress in the group as they battle towards the new year’s finals. Oh and there’s also a love story subplot, but meh. It’s harmless.
I watched this mainly because a) it had received better reviews than I thought it would, b) one of my besties has been raving about it for a while, and c) my current boss randomly told me to watch it.
It’s a lot better than I would’ve thought it would be from the ads – it’s nowhere near as trite as the low-expectations of the audience it’s marketing to, and if anything is something of a quasi-deconstruction of the performance-centric genre of story.
This movie takes the absurdities that are essential for these performance stories and plays around with them, parodying and satirizing where it sees fit, exaggerating or downplaying where it knows it’s a reliable convention.
One thing I particularly liked was where Becca tried to spice up a tired old routine in the middle of the performance, and it just throws everyone off. The audience notices it’s odd, the judges mark them down and it unbalances the rehearsed performance on stage – any other movie ticking off the tropes would have that be the victory moment. Here, it’s about as realistic as you can get in this sort of film.
Anna Kendrick is on adorably snarky form as Becca, Rebel Wilson is actually tolerable for a change (I understand her appeal, but haven’t found it appealing until now) and Brittany Snow turns in a good run as the super-nice Chloe. The other girls are all good too, and it’s nice to see the characters fleshed out a little more than just plot-necessary archetypes.
There is a lot more wit and savvy to this movie than I would’ve thought based off the ads. It almost seems like this movie saw an episode of Glee and went “okay, let’s do this right” Throw in a bit of spiritual homage to the good elements of Bring It On and Mean Girls and it’s a much better film than you would think from the ads.