HST…Film Review: Pitch Perfect

Lauren:  It has been a while since I’ve felt the glorious, backhanded comradery of female, organized activities in film.  We’re talking 12 years ago with the cheertastic Bring It On (ignore the sequels) in which a high school team must overcome the mistakes of their leader and start from the ground up to fight for the top spot in competition.  Now switch the setting to college, drop the cheering for singing, add “aca” in front of everything instead of “cheer,” and we’ve got something pretty aca-awesome.

Zac: No aca-puns this early, please. Pitch Perfect knows exactly what it is and that is what makes it pretty great over most of its run time.  Having fun with the singing genre that Glee rebooted a few years back, Pitch Perfect has its tongue firmly in cheek and skewers its targets with ease.  The film also gets away with utilizing the same clichés it is making fun of, even if it might lean on them a bit too hard.  The cast more than makes up for any of the film’s shortcomings as they seriously bring the funny from top to bottom.

Lauren:  It’s called tying it all together, bud, so I will use the aca-pun as I see fit!  But don’t worry, I’ll lay off them now because I heard more than my fair share of aca-puns during the actual movie.

Other than the affinity for this word, the problems I had with Pitch Perfect were few and far between, the largest of which was the inclusion of the father.  I think we could have figured out Beca’s issues all on our own, especially with a slightly better integration of her angsty moments with Jesse.  But other than that I really was willing to accept everything they threw at us because they knew how to make it completely enjoyable even if we’ve seen it before.  Or they’d take a new spin on things, such as the well-worn audition montage that they made into another a cappella number through editing.  And if they couldn’t do either of those things, they threw Rebel Wilson at it and she made things all better.

Zac: It’s not that they didn’t work per se; I just wish they didn’t utilize those classic third act turns.

Enough complaints about the film though as we both really liked it.  Pitch Perfect is an excellent ensemble that blends in everybody from all of the varying groups quite well.  Adam DeVine is a lot of fun as the leader of the all male Treblemakers, Anna Camp and Brittany Snow are both great as the Bella alums and, yes, Rebel Wilson certainly is going to be viewed as the breakout star here. But for my money, the best character was Hana Mae Lee’s quiet talking Lilly.  The one-liners they give her are incredible and I certainly missed a few since they stick to the muting joke so well.  Another pleasant surprise was how vulgar and adult the film’s humor was.

Lauren:  Yes the quiet talking was another stand out element, but how the heck did she pass the audition process?  They couldn’t hear her!  But hey, it’s a movie.  That and there were plenty of other actors belting loud enough to truly be impressed with some of the talent out there.  We know from Hairspray that Snow has the pipes, but I was honestly really surprised by Anna Kendrick’s voice simply because it feels like if the actor has the talent these days then it gets used in everything they do.  Yet it wasn’t like there was one star; like you said most of the ensemble gets their moments in both acting and singing, with no one really shining more so than the rest of the cast (in both groups).  And the music was amazing!  [Insert the prerequisite jab at Glee for not doing more mash-ups.  Maybe had they done more of them I’d still be watching!  Burn…]

Zac: The music was quite good, toe taping, mixes of both current and classic hits. I do feel like they should have let Kendrick’s character unleash her magic a bit earlier then they did as I don’t really buy the Bellas getting as far as they did.  I also wish Camp’s character was a bit more realistic, especially later in the game; though I did enjoy the comedic use of her special talent by the filmmakers though.

The film’s sense of humor is what makes the film work as well as it does, and director Jason Moore and writer Kay Cannon deserve a lot of credit for giving the film a strong voice.  The clichés it goes after were ripe for skewering and they rarely missed the mark.

Lauren:  Agreed, there was no way they would have made it that far without making adjustments to their worn routines earlier considering audience/judge reaction and commenter’s commentary (or unacknowledged bickering, which rarely missed the laughs as well).  But now for next time they’ll know to be aggressive, b-e aggressive in that aspect as well, because it sure worked in almost all other areas.

Zac: Oh, the commentators, we forgot to give Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins so much deserved props.  Absurd comedic relief from announcers is by no means a new gag, but these guys could go toe to toe with the best of them.

The film is a winner and I think most everyone will be pleasantly surprised with the film.  Funny, smart and the sharp young cast will keep you entertained from start to finish. Don’t be surprised if you pick up the soundtrack and come back for more on this one.

Lauren:  Yeah, I definitely see some repeat viewings in my aca-future.  Learning how to correctly use that prefix will just be an added bonus…

Lauren’s Final Grade: B+    
Zac’s Final Grade: B    

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