You Have Juice Pouches and Rocky!
I feel like as much of me that wanted to see today’s movie did not want to see it. It looked like it had just as much opportunity to be cute and entertaining as it had to be painful and predictable. My inner torment led to me not bothering to see it in theaters and even ignoring it every time I saw it at a RedBox, but my finger came close to clicking that button numerous times. The push that I needed came from my friend Ashley Janet, who requested the movie. That would be enough to cause me to finally watch and review Pitch Perfect, based on the book by Mickey Rapkin, written by Kay Cannon, directed by Jason Moore, and starring Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Adam DeVine, Utkarsh Armbudkar, Ben Platt, Freddie Stroma, Jinhee Joung, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Benjamin Hickey, John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks.
Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) is a bad girl wannabe DJ, angry at daddy for getting divorced, and for forcing her to go to college instead of pursuing her dream of going to Los Angeles to produce music and then failing and winding up doing porn. I feel like I would’ve liked to see Anna Kendrick in that movie instead, but that’s not how this one goes. Instead, her dad talks her into giving college a shot and joining some clubs to have the college experience. One of the heads of the accapella group, the Barden Bellas, named Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow) catches Beca singing in the shower and forces her to join the Barden Bellas, still reeling from their failure last year where the other leader of the group, Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), throws up all over the stage. Beca joins the group with the black lesbian Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), the white whore bag Stacie Conrad (Alexis Knapp), the quiet Asian Lilly Onakuramara (Hana Mae Lee), and the Australian comic relief Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Problematically, Aubrey refuses to take any chances and deviate from the song they’ve been performing forever, and they’ll need something new to beat last year’s champions, the Treblemakers. Also a problem, Beca’s reluctant love interest, Jesse Swanson (Skylar Astin), is a member of the Treblemakers.
I kind of went into this movie thinking I’d hate it, which was probably the reason I avoided it for so long. The greater majority of the movie helped me believe I had been making the right decision. It’s just too predictable. I imagine I could’ve written a rough outline of exactly how the movie was going to go down if you just handed me the setup. There’ll be some dumb reason for the “bad girl” to join the team, there will be some friction, then a falling out, then a tearful reunion, and they’ll win and she’ll get the boy. And the story itself isn’t even realistic, or at least I hope it isn’t. If there are indeed places that take accapella so seriously, I’d be much more comfortable acting like they don’t. They have accapella Fight Clubs! But none of that is me telling you my feelings about the movie in general. I have buried the lead and fooled you all. This movie still managed to charm me, strangely enough. Sure it was predictable and lacked anything resembling a surprise in the story, but it was cute. I guess the story itself wasn’t what did that for me, but we’ll get to what did later. Some of the dialogue was good, and some was bad. I never was really able to tell whether or not the shitty puns they used all over the movie were aware of themselves or not. It seemed a lot like a whole movie of “Cheer-ocracy” and “Cheer-tator” from Not Another Teen Movie. One of the groups was called the Treblemakers, and there was a whole section where they talked about a “Toner,” which is apparently a musical boner. That was pretty terrible, but the payoff of Anna Kendrick saying “That’s my dick” got a chuckle out of me. I also thought the line about juice pouches and Rocky was pretty adorable, but I feel like most of the credit goes to the delivery. I also took issue with the vomiting in the movie. It happens a couple of times, and I assume it was for humor’s sake, but I just thought it was disgusting and juvenile.
The music and I started out at odds, but eventually it swayed me. The music wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, being a great deal of pop music that I either didn’t like or didn’t recognize. But I started getting into it around the time of the “Riff-Off,” when they started mixing up pop songs with some 80’s rock in some very appealing ways. The music kind of won me over from that point. I did get mad during the Riff-Off, when Beca started rapping at Jesse and her whole team seemed dumbfounded by what she was singing. These people practically dedicate their lives to music and they can’t recognize No Diggity? Even I recognized that song!
I think what wins me over the most about this movie is the cast. Anna Kendrick is extremely likeable. Good-looking and great actress. Her character motivations were slippery for me at times. I don’t know why the “bad girl” would be so tolerant of the leader girl’s controlling way of running the group. I believe her father only said she had to “try” with the group thing, and her character didn’t seem like the type to tolerate that crap. If she had joined a Face-Punching Society and decided it wasn’t to her liking, I’m sure he’d be cool with her leaving the group. I also wasn’t a fan of Skylar Astin. I didn’t think he was nearly charming enough, and didn’t really believe that Kendrick’s character would find him that interesting either. I didn’t even know if he was supposed to be a good singer either based on the part he sang when the other kid asked him how his voice was. He turned out to be a good singer, but I felt like a better take could’ve existed there. It was a little pitchy, dog. Of course, all of these things might be me being bitter because I didn’t get to make out with Anna Kendrick. Who could say, really? Rebel Wilson is typically funny, and it wasn’t much different here. I felt like she was trying too hard in parts, and some of her better jokes were in the outtakes, but she held up the comedy really well. I was also a fan of the slutty girl in the group, Alexis Knapp. She was really hot and said a lot of things about sex, so it’s pretty easy to get me on your side with those credentials. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins had a pretty good job in this movie too, playing the announcers. They just got to chill in a booth and say ridiculous and funny things, but it was enjoyable.
Pitch Perfect did nothing for me by way of story, being too predictable and cliché while seeming to be well aware of both. But over time the movie melted my cold heart with great performances, beautiful ladies, some genuine funny moments, and some pretty fantastic music that was able to draw me in even though it wasn’t really my musical tastes. I’m not going to act like I didn’t raise my fist in the air at one point in this movie. I can’t help it when a certain song is playing. It’s a reflex at this point. I’ll probably wind up buying this movie and maybe even downloading the soundtrack, although I think the music wouldn’t do as much without the visuals. For you, I’d recommend at least giving it a shot by renting it. Pitch Perfect gets “I set fires to feel joy” out of “I can’t concentrate on anything you’re saying until you cover your junk.”
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