Pitch Perfect (2012)
Get Pitch Slapped
How do you make a movie about a cappella more accessible to the mainstream movie goer? Obviously, set it in college romance movie setting! Yeah, needless to say this isn't my type of movie, but then again neither was Stranger than Fiction, and I still enjoyed that one. Well, either way, sometimes you watch movies for your own curiosity and sometimes you watch them because those you hang out with. Really though, it's the ever fun a cappella, so how bad could it possibly be anyways, right?
Our plot focus here is music-sassy Beca (Anna Kendrick) who wants nothing more than to move to LA and be a DJ. Her passion is music (specifically mash-ups and mixes), and we find her in the college setting for the sole reason that her father is forcing her to do it. After being promised a free ride to LA if she get's out of her "comfort zone" and joins one club to get the most out of the college experience - where one meets people and makes memories, according to her father - if she still doesn't like what college has to offer, Beca then finds herself thrust into the world of singing a cappella. Along the way, she meets movie and music lover Jesse (Skylar Astin), and a bit of a troubled romance starts up (with the requisite "will they get together" mystery running for a good portion of the flick).
Now, thats really pretty much a super-simplified version of the main plot as far as Beca goes. As shes going on, we have the story of the Barden Bellas (the all-female group from the college), who are in a desperate struggle to beat the more popular campus a cappella group after a terrible digestive accident during the last competition. Here is where the majority of different characters come in, as each of the girls has their own personality and flavor - from quiet asian who has such wonderful lines as "want to see a dead body?", outgoing and strange tasmanian who calls herself Fat Amy, to the super-controlling leader (and center of the digestive accident).
That being said (again, I'm kind of super simplifying the plot here, although it's not exactly a super elaborate mind-bending plot either) the vast portion of comedy comes from the Bellas and the ladies that make it up - either when interacting with each other or the lines/actions of the characters themselves. When I say comedy, it actually is a pretty effective run of stupid actions (drive by burrito, for example), puns (so many puns, some might not find it so a ca-awesome. I kid you not, I'm pretty sure that's used in there), some innuendos (the kind that probably aren't appropriate for kids, but not entirely sure how well they would catch on to that), and even some "I see what you did there" stuff. It's enough of a mix that unless you are a real stick in the mud, you should find at least one scene or joke to laugh at while watching it.
Acting here is as good as one would expect - it's certainly leaps and bounds above B-movie fare, and fits in quite well with the sort of characters that are being portrayed (even if some of those characters are mostly all about emphasizing a single characteristic). The interactions between Jesse and Beca on the romance side of things plays off rather well, causing some rather deep digging by the final decision reveal as well as enlightening us to the fact that movies aren't about how predictable they may be, but about how effective the delivery and journey to that prediction is. The Bellas are interesting enough that you want to watch them on screen, specifically due to how outrageous some of them are (Fat Amy provides a large deal of amusement).
More so than the characters themselves and silly situations they get into though, the music ends up being the real star. Songs take on a new light when all the instruments are removed and replaced with noises from the mouth, and even songs that I personally don't enjoy end up taking on a sort of freshness that makes it not feel like torture to listen to again. Although most of the soundtrack is of the a cappella format, there is still a few normal songs (a couple of mix-tracks, as well as the ending song from The Breakfast Club) that occur throughout. If you're a fan of tunes (and I do imagine that's why you would initially be drawn to this movie amidst a veritable sea of romance or college-themed flicks), then this aspect shouldn't disappoint. If anything, I would say it could be argued that there wasn't enough of the a cappella in the movie, but as it is it manages to have enough that it doesn't seem gimmicky, but not so much that it makes it into a full-blown musical.
Costumes and effects here are pretty well non-existent, outside of a couple weapons-grade puking scenes (I mean, it's like a firehose for crying out loud). When I say costumes are non-existent, I mean in the sense that its primarily stuff you would expect to see on a modern campus as well, not that everyone is running around nude all the time. The performance outfits are the most not normal wear in the flick, looking much like air-stewardess uniforms to me (in the case of the Bellas), or possibly the occurrence of sock puppet performers. Outside of that, I don't think anyone really came to this movie with intentions of seeing some heavy effects work or ridiculous costumes - it is a college setting romance flick at heart after all.
Boil it all down and you have a pretty entertaining movie. If you don't like romance movies, this one probably isn't going to do much to win you over (unless you like a cappella). If you don't like a cappella, then you most likely won't enjoy it to it's fullest, and if you don't like puns that start with "A CA" then you might break something before you make it to the end of the movie. For what it's worth, I enjoyed it, and the person I watched it with loved it - so in the long run if you've agreed with any of my previous opinions on movies, then you probably won't regret watching it.