Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect



Jason Moore


Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin


1h 52min


Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Alice Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Shelley Regner, Caroline Fourmy, Nicole Lovince, Adam DeVine, Utkarsh Ambudkar

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While television was succeeding with shows like Glee, the big screen found its own a cappella muse in Pitch Perfect, a musical comedy that may be targeted at younger audiences, but which has the ability to appeal to people of all ages.

Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a young woman who wants to become a music producer, but whose father insists she must go to college. After initially deciding not to join the recently disgraced all-female a cappella club at the university, she finds new friends in a group filled with both the popular and the outsiders alike. As the team fights over maintaining a slavish devotion to tradition or modernizing their approach to music, the Barden Bellas risk another national embarrassment as they compete against their college’s all-male rivals the Treblemakers.

Beca navigates the thorny life of a college student while her strained relationship with her father makes it difficult to form new bonds with others, including the women in her singing group as well as her boyfriend on the rival team. Like the John Hughes films of the 1980s, the mix of social outcasts and popular kids creates a fascinating microcosm of university life in the 21st Century.

Pitch Perfect is a hilarious and compelling film that blends popular ’80s and ’90s tunes with modern hits. The fresh mix of songs like “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” from The Breakfast Club (one of several Hughes references), “The Sign” from 90s Swedish hitmakers Ace of Base, 2009 synth-pop hit “Bulletproof,” and others adds an approachable layer of musical excitement that should keep numerous demographics thoroughly entertained.

The cast provide “pitch perfect” performances with the always stellar Kendrick leading the pack with a vulnerable, approachable, and feisty performance. Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, and Adam DeVine are all delightful actors used to great effect. And added level he likes of John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks providing a twisted version of a Greek Chorus as commentators on the collegiate a cappella competition circuit who regularly trash the Bellas.

TV director Jason Moore mostly stays out of the way of the performances, allowing them to speak for themselves. There’s nothing particularly invigorating about his directorial style, making the film feel both at home in the 1980s from which it draws influence as well as within the framework of modern cinema. It’s the kind of style that no one remembers and will ultimately mean a lack of future film prospects.

Regardless of how impactful the film is to the language of cinema, Pitch Perfect is a wonderful diversion. If you aren’t interested in modern popular music, then perhaps this isn’t a film you can entirely identify with, but younger audiences and more open-minded older ones should certainly enjoy the entire ride.

Review Written

June 15, 2020

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