Thursday 10 January 2013

Pitch Perfect (2012) - Jason Moore

Pitch Perfect is unashamedly riding the Glee wave.  Right from the acapella Universal Pictures introduction, the camp factor is ramped up and we’re thrown head-first into show choir singing.

Yet Jason Moore’s film isn’t quite the cheese-fest you might be expecting.  The plot focuses on Beca (Anna Kendrick), an aspiring DJ starting college and forced by her overbearing father to ‘take part’.  Despite confessing to not being a singer, she joins The Bellas (the campus all-female acapella choir in competition with male rivals the Treblemakers) and ends up becoming the star performer.  So far, so predictable.

What makes the film so enjoyable is its ability to poke fun at itself and satirise choir singing, whilst remaining reverent to its influences.  Though based on typical college tropes, the film amusingly subverts stereotypes with its cast of goofy, colourful characters.  One scene sees the girls confessing their secrets in a sort of circle of trust, but their confessions are anything but predictable.  This is a fat-hearted film that’s heart-warming without being sickening.  Instead, you’ll be vomiting laughter throughout.  The comedy is witty, outlandish and utterly random, without stooping to vulgarities. 

Music fans will appreciate not only the puns but the soundtrack.  Like the narrative, it takes typical song choices and mashes them together unexpectedly.  Beca’s DJ sets are also well mixed, though sadly missing from the CD soundtrack.  The singing itself might be heavily processed (the lead actresses chosen are known for their comedy rather than their voices), but who cares when the music is cleverly employed, the routines are thoroughly enjoyable and the performances are equally loveable and hysterical?

As Beca, Anna Kendrick continues her gradual domination of Hollywood.  Her breakthrough might have been in Twilight, but since then she’s appeared in films as varied as Scott Pilgrim vs The World, 50/50 and last year’s excellent End Of WatchHer percussive-vocal performance of “Cups” is praiseworthy alone.  As natural and watchable as she is on screen though, Pitch Perfect is stolen by Rebel Wilson.  The fresh face of Hollywood comedy, her funny bone is ten times the size of her frame and her delivery is timed to perfection.

At the heart of Pitch Perfect is its emphasis on sorority and female empowerment (especially in the male dominated music industry).  Thanks initially to Twilight, young, female orientated cinema is undoubtedly on the rise.  But, far from cashing in on this fad, Pitch Perfect is a film with universal appeal.  The references to 80s classic The Breakfast Club are unabashed, but the parallels are obvious.  Forget sparkly vampires, this is the teen film of the generation.