Pitch Perfect Review
by Bret Dorman
I’m actually starting to like musicals a bit more and more every year. I don’t mind the singing. Like most action movies, most musicals feature chunks where they break from the story do some some ridiculous stuff. Good action movies manage to further plot or character in an action scene, like good musicals do with their musical numbers. And a recent trend in action movies is to have the main character (and a lot of the supporting characters) be complete and total assholes. Sadly, this trend has found its way into a cappella ‘musicals’ as well…The Story: Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a total asshole who hates everyone and is in college. There she meets Jesse (Skylar Astin), the nice guy asshole, which means he mostly just an asshole to the people who “deserve” it the most. Chloe and Aubrey (Brittany Snow and Anna Camp) are the not so asshole/asshole girls in charge of recruiting for an all girl a cappella group. Then there’s Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), the most likable asshole of all the assholes. Also, all the competitors, roommates, announcers, and parental figures are assholes too.
As you can see, I’m not a huge fan of this movie for one basic simple reason. I don’t like assholes. Now I get that movies can have main characters that aren’t totally “like-able” (i.e. Taxi Driver or There Will Be Blood). I also get that sometimes a character can start unlikable and realize the error of their ways and learn a lesson and become likable (i.e. Half the Rom Coms out there, the other half being a totally like-able character never catching a break). But I don’t understand why, mostly since Transformers and Shia LeBouf’s character Sam Witwiky, so many characters need to be assholes? If these movies are supposed to be simple, fun, entertaining, and charming, why are the main characters so dispicable?(Some Minor Spoilers! ahead…) Let’s break it down. Beca is an asshole to everyone. She says she doesn’t trust people, but that’s no reason to be a complete bitch to every single person ever. Jesse is kind of an asshole at first making fun of the a cappella group he later joins. He’s also a bit rude to his roommate and radio station manager. Beca’s roommate is a total asshole to her (although since she is such a minor one note character its funny). Aubrey is a total asshole to everyone she recruits to the point you wonder why they stay since it can’t be fun. She immediately kicks out three people from the group allowing Beca a free pass to be an asshole back since they “need” her. The dude in charge of the other group is a total asshole but since he is the villain it seems more appropriate. The two announcers (John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks having fun riffing the best they can) are total assholes. The villainous group leaves a tournament and is immediately a bunch of assholes to the older group selling CDs outside. Heck, even Fat Amy is an asshole to the black lesbian chick, calling her out for being a lesbian during a touching, intimate moment with the group. The black chick just scoffs at her and makes her feel like an asshole. Good for her.
Like I said, some of these are understandable. The roommates don’t get along for no reason! Tehehe! Bumper is mean and you want him to lose! Got it! But the announcers call out the lady group for doing an old song, then immediately after the bad guy group does an a cappella version of a REMIX of an old song (that You Spin My Head Right Round song) and they don’t mention it. Then later those announcers witness two more older songs (one of which is The Final Countdown) and one of those songs is used by the lady group in the final tournament and they say nothing. So basically, they are assholes to the ladies when its funny but not later because they are doing better. I hate comedic inconsistencies. It shows a complete lack of character and sacrifices actual storytelling and good characters for a simple laugh. I’m sure most people won’t care.The other huge thing with Pitch Perfect is how over sexualized it is. Everything is about sex. Women flash their cleavage and even grab their boobs mid performance to “impress” the judges. Characters spout out terms like “toner” (an obvious joke referring to a musical “boner” that is overtly explained for the people who can’t put two plus two together), boner, vagina, and dick to each other. I’m a fan of vulgar comedy, but this movie is PG-13 (I honestly thought throughout it had to be Rated R). There is a gratuitous shower scene where one character completely invades another’s personal space without acknowledging it at all. So that means the filmmakers decided that their target audience, little girls and/or little kids interested in choir/singing/theater SHOULD be exposed to assholes treating assholes like assholes while female characters refer to their “toner” bulge in their pants as their dick, then make plenty of sex jokes and grab their boobs to get more points in a singing contest. I hate to sound like a crotchety old man, but really? I guess that would explain why the group of 10+ unsupervised preteens in my movie theater shouted out about “vagina boners” and making out before the movie, then DURING the movie shouted out their own giggling commentary AND kept changing seats in groups throughout the whole movie, moving from back to front and so on throughout the ENTIRE movie. A movie full of assholes for assholes. Pitch Perfect also calls out older Movies/Rom Coms (specifically The Breakfast Club) for being predictable. Beca scoffs at movie endings. Then, Pitch Perfect goes on to completely follow the formula set forth by the generic films before it. Like Friends With Benefits last year, I hate when movies do this. FWB was bit harsher in its making fun of the formula and even sappier in following through. At least in Pitch Perfect, Beca is such an asshole you don’t take anything she says seriously.
Lastly, there ARE some funny moments. Fat Amy does have some good laughs. She is overly sexualized too, but its not funny because she’s fat, but because of how OVERLY confident she is doing it. Beca does change by the end but its too little too late. This movie is supposed to be FUN and I can’t get behind how rude she is throughout. I wasn’t rooting for her to change, I was rooting for someone to punch her. In fact I think Anna Kendrick was great (as always) I am just disappointed in how her character was written. The songs are all good and they even mix in some different styles (not just different genres, but different types of a cappella like traditional, improv, and live remix). The singing is what most people will go for and yes I did enjoy it in all its actual goodness AND obvious gimmickery.
In Conclusion, yes I have been harsh on Pitch Perfect. The movie has good singing and follows through on a generic story. It has some real good humor, but mostly lame attempts. Some of it, in the moment, does play in its favor. But I don’t like assholes. And just because you can sing well doesn’t mean you get to be one. In fact, like the remake of Footloose, it kind of says you are allowed to be an asshole, given you CAN sing well, since none of the characters really have to pay for any of their assholery.
Final Grade: D-
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