Wayback Wednesday: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Aca-alright.

When I was in high school I remember being at a party and overhearing one girl ask her friend, “what should we play next?” Her friend replied, “anything but the Pitch Perfect soundtrack.” That right there is a testament to how long and powerful the reign of Pitch Perfect (2012) was. For a brief moment in late 2012 and early 2013, this wildly successful and entertaining movie held the world in the palm of its hand. Legions of fans were suddenly obsessed with humming, harmonizing and learning the choreography to the “Cups” song. A cappella, as well as Rebel Wilson, were suddenly the two most buzzed about trends in pop culture and it’s all because of Pitch Perfect.

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 8.59.15 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Universal Pictures

Pitch Perfect follows Beca Mitchell, an ambitious and rebellious music producer who has just enrolled at Barden University. Despite not wanting to be there, Beca satisfies her father by joining the all-girl a cappaella group, the Barden Bellas. The Bellas face off  against rival group the Treblemakers as they compete to become national champions.

Really, the success of this movie should come as no surprise. Pitch Perfect is undoubtedly fresh and funny from start to finish, but if you add a cool and catchy soundtrack to your movie, than young people are going to absolutely eat it up. Especially this generation. Hello, we were raised on Hannah Montana (2006 – 2011), High School Musical (2006) and Camp Rock (2008)! All of which are fantastic by the way and I’ll defend each with my final breathe. Seriously though, we’ll talk about human stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Skylar Astin in a second. First let’s talk about the true star of Pitch Perfect: the music. Much like after Glee (2009 – 2015) aired and everyone wanted to be in show choir and create mash-ups, a cappella became a THING after the release of this movie. And once again, mash-ups. Everyone and their grandma was putting a video of them performing “Cups” on YouTube, and bizarre mash-ups of early 2010s pop songs and 90s R&B flooded social media. When you’re dealing with a soundtrack as infectious and creative as this one it’s no wonder that so many would want to emulate it. That mash-up of “Just the Way You Are / Just a Dream” is heavenly. As charismatic and talented as Pitch Perfect‘s quirky cast of characters are, the phenomenal music ensures that the human cast are nothing more than background singers.

As Beca, Anna Kendrick is her usual scrappy self. Kendrick is able to flip a switch inside herself, going from sweet and naive in roles like Twilight (2008) and Up in the Air (2009) to angsty rebels like this one. Kendrick is more than capable as a lead and she’s blessed with enough charisma and talent to fill a stadium. It wasn’t until this viewing however that I realized, I kind of prefer Beca as a cool side character rather than a main character. I mean, Beca admits to not liking movies. That’s just not right. No, you know who I would have liked the movie to be about? Fat Amy.

Rebel Wilson hooked audiences with her hilarious role in Bridesmaids (2011) but it’s her turn as Fat Amy that reeled them in. It’s just a shame that since Pitch Perfect she hasn’t exactly managed to keep them on the line. Fat Amy is the type of nonsensical, brash, laugh out loud funny character we always hope Wilson will deliver but rarely does these days. Wilson’s deadpan, observational humour works wonders for stand-up comedy and in this, arguably her most famous role. She steals almost every scene she’s in and is responsible for pretty much all of the movie’s most memorable lines. Well, her and Hana Mae Lee as the shy Lily Onakuramara. I swear, that barely audible, soft-spoken admittance of something cuckoo or horrific was everyone’s joke in 2012 and for good reason. It’s a hysterical bit that never fails to make me laugh.

Pitch Perfect assembles a team of misfit underdogs that give the movie its backbone. Misfit underdogs are a must in any movie about a competitive team. It’s a cast that I’m honestly floored by. There’s Ben Platt! A mega-talented Broadway star whose voice is LEGIT (that “Magic” cover!) and is hilariously awkward and endearing as Benji, the lovable dork. Then there’s Brittany Snow, an underrated teen queen who I always enjoy when she pops up in movies and TV shows. By the way, trust me: The Hairspray (2007) review is coming. Then there’s Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins who are so chaotically wacky and fun as Gail and John respectively. They add a sense of irreverence to a movie that already isn’t afraid to be campy and make fun of itself. Finally, there’s Skylar Astin as Beca’s love interest Jesse. Why did Skylar Astin never become a thing? He really should have. He’s funny. charming and very talented. I ask you, where’s the love for Skylar Astin?

One of the slightly annoying things about Pitch Perfect, except for the fact that the Bellas’ believed they’d win nationals with THE SAME performance EVERY TIME, are all the aca-puns. Ugh, once or twice is fine but soon they become excessive, forced and tiresome. Maybe screenwriter Kay Cannon crafts better comedy scripts for TV. After all, she’s worked on 30 Rock (2006 – 2013) and New Girl (2011  -2018), two of my favourite comedies. That’s amazing. Almost as amazing as The Riff-Off which I demand my friends and I do every Saturday night from now on, thank you, and the Bellas’ electrifying final performance. As a viewer it’s so gratifying to watch them deliver this triumphant, fantastic celebration of every pop song from the early 2010s. OH MY GOD I ALMOST FORGOT! Pitch Perfect goes off because it features one of my favourite movie tropes ever: A bad audition montage! I never met a montage I didn’t like and this is my favourite kind! The awkwardness! The comedy! The off-key singers! And all set to “Since U Been Gone.” I live.

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Credit: imdb.com / Universal Pictures

I used to think that Pitch Perfect was one of my favourite movies but really, it’s just a perfectly alright movie. Like, I’d definitely watch it again and I enjoy it, but it’s not AS special as the first time I watched it, y’know? There are plenty of scene-stealing comedy characters and a nice chemistry between Kendrick and Astin, but the real reason to re-watch this movie is the soundtrack. There are better competition comedy movies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) and Bring It On (2000) – check out my review here! – and better musical comedy movies like School of Rock (2003) and The Blues Brothers (1980). But I guess this is the best movie about a cappella? Well Pitch Perfect, in that regard you’re aca-awesome. Yikes, those don’t flow very naturally do they?

Are you a fan of the Pitch Perfect movies?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

 

 

 

 

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