“Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school’s all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.”
Directed by: Jason Moore, Rated: PG-13, 112 minutes
My goal is to do a Double Team review with each of the writers on The Cinematic Katzenjammer. Below, Page Marie and I have a discussion on last year’s unexpected hit, Pitch Perfect.
N: To start things off, what were your initial thoughts after watching Pitch Perfect?
P: To be honest, I felt a bit “Meh.” It had lots of funny moments but the ending could have been much better.
N: Yeah, the third act fell apart for me as well. I was hoping that the entire movie would be like a parody of Glee or something, but ending up being far too similar to the shitty TV show for me to really enjoy.
P: I felt like it was a parody of Glee for a while. Then it was so predictable, which I think is funny because the main character says she hates predictability in movies!
N: Yeah, that really annoyed me. The movie billed itself as something different, with Anna Kendrick’s character supposed to be “against the grain” and such, yet the entire thing ends up being like everything we’ve seen before. I guess trying to not be cliche has now become cliche. Speaking of Kendrick, by the way, how do you think she did in the lead?
P: I liked her as the lead, and I never even knew she could sing. Apparently she has done Broadway! I didn’t know that about her. She probably could have been a little more edgy, since I think that’s the kind of personality they were going for, but overall I liked her just fine. Nothing incredible.
N: Yeah, she needed more bite in the role. She starts off really edgy, with heavy makeup and dark nail polish, but that “look” fades by the end. I don’t know if that’s part of her arc, but it felt a bit like a cop out. However, I was shocked at how good of a singer she is. Very sultry- adds to her appeal, if you know what I mean.
P: Haha, yes. And she could dance, too! Pretty sure they added that shower scene for the guys who were forced to watch this film, haha. I would like to see her as a lead again. I’ve liked her in other films, especially Up in the Air, so I think she has potential for something better than Pitch Perfect.
N: Yeah, she definitely does. I wouldn’t call Pitch Perfect a step back in her career, as much as it’s just a generic entry in her filmography. And yes, that shower scene was nice. I’m surprised it wasn’t used more in the marketing. But overall, Kendrick was the only reason I went into Pitch Perfect with some hope for the film. I had heard a lot of good things about the movie, overall though, and I think that hype maybe killed it for me, as I didn’t think it delivered as strongly as it seemed to do for others.
P: Yes! I was expecting more. Also, I think I remember parts from the trailer that weren’t in the film, which is always annoying. So you watched it for Kendrick, but how did you like Rebel Wilson?
N: Rebel’s popping up everywhere these days, and I really thought I was going to get tired of her. But is probably my favorite part of Pitch Perfect. Every line she utters you can tell isn’t scripted, and just seeing how weird she gets is hilarious.
P: Yes! I loved her. Honestly, if not for her the film would have really flopped. Some of the other characters had their moments, but nobody (save Kendrick) was as good as she was. I hope she does more comedies. You can tell she just goes for it when she’s improvising and just doesn’t care, as long as it’s funny.
N: I really liked Skylar Astin at first, as well, but his descent into mediocrity is the worst of the cast. He starts off as a more vocally-inclined Justin Long like character and turned into a background nerd from the set of Glee. In fact, the entire supporting cast falls apart as much as the film does on its own. But, without a lot of the familiar faces, Pitch Perfect could have easily been a straight to DVD dud.
P: I was thinking it had that cheesy, straight to DVD vibe, too. I wish Astin’s character was less sensitive and more funny. He kind of reminded me of Dane Cook a little bit, but without the humor.
N: Talking about Dane Cook and humor should never ever go hand in hand. Unless you’re talking about his lack of humor, then continue.
P: Hahaha, maybe it’s because he kind of looks like him? Regardless, his character certainly had more potential and it’s a shame that it wasn’t used. I did think his voice was nice. But every performance from the Treblemakers made me feel like I was watching the Warblers from Glee!
N: Adam DeVine definitely played the cocky douche lead singer really well. I like the guy from Workoholics, but he’s becoming a poor man’s Jack Black. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, moving onto the actual singing, the jumps in quality all over really pissed me off. Everyone’s a piss poor singer (except Kendrick) when they’re on their own, but when everyone sings together, it’s like 60 people singing “a Capella” and I’m almost certain there were drums and such in the background as well. When you base a movie around a specific style, stick with it. Don’t make it an over-the-top lip syncing contest.
P: Exactly! Especially the final performance. No way a group of 14 or so girls could make that sound using just their voices. I’m sure the producers could have found talent to actually record the songs a Capella. Still, the “riff-off” was pretty great. That was probably better than any of the competition performances.
N: Definitely. Thus, I wanted more of that. No fancy frills, no costumes, or lights, or whatever. Also, during the actual performances, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who provided “commentary” for everything, was completely out of place and pissed me off more than anything. I don’t know why an a Capella competition needs commentators, let alone two annoying, heartless, disgusting people to narrate the entire thing. Poor, lazy excuse to throw in a few more jokes.
P: Yes that, or they wanted to add a couple more “big” names. I wanted to like them in the beginning but that didn’t last long. I think I rolled my eyes every time they were on screen. It would have been funny if Banks screamed, “THIS IS MAHOGANY!” But… that wouldn’t have made much sense. I wonder if a Capella competitions have commentators in real life. And if so, what do they say?
N: ”Kill me now”. I can only imagine. Also, back to actual singing, the choice of songs is a bit all over the place. I was hoping for some real hits, or some classic rock, but instead got a lot of things you hear covered a lot already. And any mention to The Breakfast Club gets harder and harder to swallow. Apparently these days, that movie needs to be referenced all over the place, as though it’s “the cool” thing to do. The movie’s great, but no where near as revered as it’s always made out to be. But that’s just me getting nit-picky.
P: In their defense, it is a pretty great moment Jesse is referring to, but I agree, it’s trying to be too “cool.” As far as song choices, I totally agree. Some classic rock would have been much better than Bruno Mars or Rihanna. I wouldn’t have minded more hip hop, or anything less cheesy than Turn the Beat Around! And we had to hear it what, three times?
N: Very true. With it’s very unexpected success, there’s sure to be an inevitable sequel to the movie. If that happens, what would you like to see change? Think it’s worth re-visiting, or has the film failed too far to really redeem itself with another?
P: I really hope there isn’t a sequel. It probably would be straight to DVD. Something like Step Up meets Glee, I just don’t think it would ever be any better than what it already is. Especially because it’s not likely they would bring Kendrick and Wilson back. I don’t think Pitch Perfect was awful, but I really don’t think the world needs more of the same!
N: Yeah, if I hear another “a ca-scuse me” joke or some other misuse of the word I may have to kill someone.
N: To wrap things up, what are your final thoughts on the film before you give it a score?
P: Not bad for a $1 Redbox rental, but could have been much better with more interesting song choices, real a Capella singing, and more humor! There were hilarious moments for sure, I just wanted more of them. Maybe I’m too demanding. Oh, and nix the annoying, overly dramatic commentators.
N: Yeah, I agree. I don’t feel I wasted $1, but I wouldn’t buy the movie. Had the film been as strong as its first act throughout the entire movie, it would definitely be a little classic. But unfortunately, the entire thing falls apart and delivers a completely predictable, cliche, and uninspired finale. A film billed as “pitch slapping” you, I really wish it did. Instead, I feel like I got a quick little tap on the cheek, a crappy mix tape, and a complete lack of naked Anna Kendrick. What’s your final score?
P: It was pretty mediocre, I’m going to say 5.5/10.
N: I’m close, but I’ll give it a 6/10, which is watchable in my book. If not for Kendrick or Wilson, I don’t know how I would have gotten through the film.