When Glee broke out onto the scene in 2009, people were unsure of what to think. A show about a group of outcast kids in a club that sing mash-ups and musical numbers? Really? Well it was a first, that’s for sure. But here we are three years later, three seasons in and a reality show to boot with no signs of slowing down. It turns out that there was a large group of people looking for this exact type of show and that musicals don’t have to be relegated to the stage or on Broadway.
So it came as no surprise that studios wanted to capitalize on this success and create a feature film centered around a glee club. Well Pitch Perfect took it one step further; instead of having just a group of kids doing covers of songs, the creators decided to go the a cappella route and have the groups use no instruments other than their voices. With an underlying tone of a romance comedy but centered around a rag-tag group of female singers, does Pitch Perfect end up as feature film knock off of Glee or does it bring something new to the table?
Pitch Perfect tells the story of Beca (Anna Kendrick) and her first year at University. She doesn’t want to be there, and would rather be in LA making a name for herself as a music producer. Her father, part of the University’s faculty, insists she stay and finish her (free) college education, but if it is so important to her, he will help her achieve her dreams if she just puts an effort into the first year. How does she do that? Well, she joins the Barden Bellas, a female a cappella group, who are trying to come back from an embarrassing loss at nationals the year prior. We find out that the Bellas are now having to fill in the empty spaces left by the old members, but because of their loss, are hard pressed to find girls who have “perfect pitch, and bikini ready bodies” that want to join. So instead they recruit a motley crew of under dogs to help them get back to nationals and defeat their school rivals, the Trebelmakers. The Barden Bellas obviously become close, but there is some tension along the way, both between the girls and between Beca and a member of the Treblemakers, Jesse (Skylar Astin), who obviously has feelings for her.
At first it may be easy to draw comparisons to other films and shows, such as the previously mentioned hit TV series Glee, as well as, Bring it On, and Bridesmaids. And yes, Pitch Perfect does contain may similarities with those films/show. It is about a group of under dogs trying to sing their way to the top (a la Glee), but also has fun and witty humor (like Bridesmaids), while still being a Rom Com, revolving around a major team based competition (Bring it On). But what separates Pitch Perfect is that it takes all of these formulas and archetypes and makes them better. It may look like a typical teenage Romance Comedy, but it does separate itself from the usual “boy meets girl” story in many ways. The film is hilarious and most people, fans of Rom Coms or not, will leave the theatre with a smile on their face. It is a perfect blend of slapstick humor, one liners and witty repartees. Anna Kendrick again plays a quick and sarcastic character who always has something to say and she has definitely come into her own as a comedic actor; it’s no surprise why she was cast as the lead in this film. However, the most notable comedic performance goes to Rebel Wilson, who plays Fat Amy. Her small role in Bridesmaids was one of the funniest of the film, and although her character is completely different in Pitch Perfect, she has the best scenes and one-liners. From her first scene to her last, she is the character in which you fall in love. The rest of the cast does a good job at bringing their own flavor to the screen. With the different personalities in the Barden Bellas and, the male leads in the Trebelmakers, each person has their quirky personalities that will have you in stitches.
As for the musical aspect, that is a little harder to describe. Personally I thought the music was brilliant. I am a big fan of a cappella music and to see some of the major hits, of today and the past, covered in such a way was really refreshing. But then again, I dabbled in musical theatre, and I know a lot of people who do not like that type of music. I also know there are plenty of people who are not fans of Glee and would therefore be more apprehensive to see this film. For those people, I say, the comedy aspect is enough to make you enjoy the movie, and while you may not be as interested in the music, there are plenty of songs covered that will have you tapping along with your feet or humming the tune when you leave the theatre. It is just good fun and although most of the songs covered are considered top 40, there are a few older gems that get the a cappella treatment.
There were a few moments that lost me a bit, centered around Brittany Snow’s character. When these scenes took place, I felt myself less involved and especially near the last few scenes, confused and questioning the plausibility of certain aspects. But it is a small gripe, and one that I’m sure people will over look or find quite amusing.
Overall Pitch Perfect is a decent romance comedy, a good musical film and a great comedy. It is everything you wanted to see in Glee, and isn’t as watered down or melodramatic as the television series has become. It will have you laughing at points and wanting to sing along at others. So get out there and check this movie out.
NERD IT UP!!!