A capella music is one of those trends that I never got into.
Granted, a lot of my apathy for singing without music comes from my bitterness about my own inability to sing in any context; I love a good DCAF show — the annual festival held by Georgetown’s Phantoms and Gracenotes— just as much as the next Jane Hoya. But the new moviePitch Perfect managed to win me over in a way I didn’t think possible.
Pitch Perfect, based on the novel by Mickey Rapkin, is directed by Jason Moore. It stars Anna Kendrick as Beca, the angsty college first-year who wants nothing to do with her new home at Balton College, where her alternative style (conveyed throughsmokey eye-makeup, extra ear piercings and love of disc jockeying) just doesn’t quite fit in with the preppy norm. Beca gets roped into singing in an all-female a cappella group who is stuck in its old ways, performing boring musical arrangements.
Along the way, she befriends Chloe (Brittany Snow), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and even the completely neurotic captain Aubrey (Anna Camp). And then there’s her adorkable love interest, Jesse (SkylarAstin), with whom she has a Ross and Rachel-esque romance. Things are complicated by the fact that he’s in the campus’ all-male a cappella group, her group’s rival. The Balton Bellas must come together to beat the Treble Makers in the national collegiate a cappella championship.
While some of the actors seem obscure, producer Elizabeth Banks certainly is not, and she makes a mean cameo appearance as a sexually-repressed a cappella judge. Her off-color jokes within the first five minutes set the tone for a witty farce of a musical that is also a coming-of-age story.
I should make it very clear that the music in the film was actually fantastic. If you love mash-ups of summer pop songs and actual a cappella performances with pretty sweet choreography, you’ll love this movie from the get-go. But even if you don’t, Pitch Perfect is witty enough to suffice as smart,“Glee”-esque humor for just over an hour and a half.
Yes, the plot might be so embarrassingly predictable that I don’t even need to write a spoiler alert. But despite the fact that I knew that Beca and Jesse would finally get together after the big national competition and that it would end on a cheesy “Kumbaya” note, I still found myself enjoying the movie.
Screenwriter Kay Cannon’s script had phenomenal dialogue. He globs a generous dose of snark and self-criticism into every scene, which elevates the film. Wilson was the best at delivering the dry, self-deprecating lines, which actually made me laugh out loud. She clearly stole the show.
I am a huge supporter of such humor; I think Banks recognized that there’s a huge stigma about how some a cappella groups and other aspects of college take themselves too seriously. So when you see Wilson demonstrating her “horizontal running” as a form of cardio or one of the girls referring to her vagina as a man on a regular basis, it’s funny.
Additionally, what I appreciated most about Pitch Perfect was the way it actually breached sexual boundaries in a normal way. The film does a fantastic job at poking just enough fun at college students’ budding sexual adventures to make it totally accessible without pushing any kind of agenda.
So while I wouldn’t say this is an earth-shattering cinematic adventure, it’s definitely a hilarious comedy. A light-hearted, self-mocking film, Pitch Perfect is in tune with what we need to take a break from our all-too-serious collegiate lives.