Monday, 10 December 2012

Pitch Perfect (2012/US)


Julien Faddoul

(0 stars)

d – Jason Moore
w – Kay Cannon   (Based on the Book by Mickey Rapkin)
ph – Julio Macat
pd – Barry Robinson
m – Christophe Beck, Mark Kilian
ed – Lisa Zeno Churgin
cos – Salvador Perez Jr

p – Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Max Handelman

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Skylar Astin, Freddie Stroma, Alexis Knapp, Adam DeVine, Ester Dean, Brock Kelly, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins

Pitch Perfect, directed by Jason Moore and written by Kay Cannon, is by no means a dumb movie. It tells the story of Becca, a young college freshman who is so-over-everything that she tells people they’re dorky right to their faces, oh my! She aspires to be a record producer. She does grunt work at the college radio station and halfheartedly auditions for a prissy, flirtatious, but sisterly a cappella ensemble. They spend the rest of the film harmonizing their way through many pop standards (most of which are premillennial) that even a music-illiterate dummy like me will recognize instantly.

The movie is based on a book by Mickey Rapkin. The rest of the cast includes Anna Camp, Brittany Snow (both of whom are delightful), Adam DeVine, Ester Dean, Skylar Astin and Rebel Wilson. It is 113 minutes long, which is, with all due respect, too long. The reason I feel calling Pitch Perfect dumb is misleading is because it has cognizance. It is aware of the inevitability of the story and the characters. Kendrick and Astin develop a romance that one can see coming from Neptune. It is bubbly, it is buoyant. It is made with skill and precision and is attempting to enter the pantheon of ironic comedies that constantly fill our movie screens.

The reason I can’t quite recommend it, though, is because cognizance is getting old. Pitch Perfect, although is stuffed with many quips, is never really funny or surprising. It does a dishonour to the beautiful memories of Bring it On, Mean Girls and, my personal favourite, Easy A. And Becca is certainly no Olive Penderghast. Irony over purity is a dangerous game, and what Pitch Perfect is trying to be about is certainly not a fool’s game, I am sorry to say that it never actually succeeds. And I badly wanted it to with all my heart. The quips and putdowns are coming at you so fast and furious that the feeling is akin to searching through a pile of discounted clothes until you find a score. You’re constantly digging through a dumpster.

I have a queasy feeling that Anna Kendrick might currently be suffering from typecasting. Once again here she plays a snotty young woman who thinks she knows more than everyone else only to gain a wider perspective by the film’s end. Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Lindsay Lohan and Emma Stone were all there first and it is a shame to pigeonhole Kendrick (who is talented) in this kind of dreary persona.

I am unsold on Rebel Wilson, whom I still consider to be inexplicably popular. The film itself demands that you love her; love her with laughter. Mr Moore and Ms Cannon save almost all the good stuff for her. But the atrocious level of cruelty that all the characters that she doesn’t play in her movies (Bridesmaids, Bachelorette, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) treat her with still comes across as a rather dubious ploy by an emerging actress to gain popularity. Her character’s name in this movie is Fat Amy, a title she calls herself. Get it? Do you love her yet? She has skill, but I have yet to see talent.

Pitch Perfect feels that if it tries to be about something that is not as noble as other films that it can get away with being sub-par. It can’t. And I know that there is a delightful teen comedy buried within Pitch Perfect bursting to get out. Maybe next time.

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