Freelance Journalist


Literal and Metaphorical Pitch Perfection

There's no particular reason why this film should be good. In retrospect, it isn't. It's a mash-up of teeny angst coming of age, Glee themed cringeworthiness and run-of-the-mill college humour. But should a film be judged in retrospect? If it had succeeded in suspending your disbelief for its duration, should that not make it an enjoyable, and therefore, good film? I suppose it comes down to perspective, but if you're the kind of movie-goer who had cried openly at the swelling of strings in the Dark Knight soundtrack, or have had weak knees and your mouth agape as you stumbled out of The Raid: Redemption, then it's fairly safe to say you treat films as experience.

And that's basically all Pitch Perfect is worth. To simply lose yourself amongst its quirky characters and simple humour, you do have to genuinely have a neutral stance as you enter the cinema. It's a difficult business distancing yourself from the onslaught of hyped up advertisements, inane reviews and endless speculation about actors and actresses: all of which shape your opinion of a film you haven't even seen yet. There's no other medium that's judged so fiercely, frequently and openly in the scrimmage to label and categorise things into a simplistic, marketable product.

That's not to say Pitch Perfect's been labelled unfairly, because the treatment is actually one of homage to its predecessors. Taking cues from a lot of John Hughes (predominantly from The Breakfast Club), and Sister Act; the film is akin to a dance mix of 80's classic tunes injected with some sweet modern beats. And, as an experience, it is just as much fun. An adaptation written by 30 Rock staffer Kay Cannon, the plot takes on your average underdog structure, bolsters itself with quirky characterisations and throws in a self-deriding sense of humour. The sweet and sultry Anna Kendrick plays Beca, a rebellious DJ looking for her first break onto the scene. As luck would have it, she's unwillingly recruited by her university's all girl a-capella group, which is run by the fascist Chloe. Egos clash, self-realisations are had and romance blossoms when the group go head-to-head with a-capella's reigning (all male) champs.

Keeping the film well out of the murky depths of overabundant cliche is its stellar cast. Keep an eye out for Workaholics' Adam DeVine who plays the callously ambitious rival leader, Skylar Astin's talky, Woody Allen-esque romantic lead and Rebel Wilson's typically crass Australian. Particular kudos goes to Wilson, whose quips are heavily relied on during the film's more cheesy moments.

While it is a thinly veiled attempt at classic conventions, the film's saving graces lie in its dogged adhesion to reinvention, rather than replay. The central conflict is not one of the overused romantic crossover, but of the clash between convention and radicalism. This conflict rings true not only with its clearly generational focus on music and style, but also within the film industry itself. By using the well-worn platform of teen film, Pitch Perfect questions its own relevance in a market full of low-quality, money grabbing gimmicks. There is the naive hope that a film like this will herald the coming of a wave of much needed freshness, but the industry has a way of leading you on like that. That being said, while there are films like this being made, I'll probably have to stick it out for a couple more years.