PITCH PERFECT. Starring Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Directed by Jason Moore. 112 minutes. Rated M (Sexual references and coarse language).
This is a very cheerful film.
Pitch perfect refers to the musical term of getting the right note just right. Very important for a cappella singing groups. And this is what the film is about: a cappella, singing, competitions. There is a lot of singing all the way through the film, quite entertaining. Those breakdance and step up films created crazes and competitions in real life. Maybe Pitch Perfect will be the impetus for groups to be established and the staging of competitions. They would involve a lot more participants, with more people being comfortable and able as they sing rather than attempting dance gymnastics. That wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Taking the word pitch with another meaning, referring to the way that a potential film is presented to producers and backers, the pitch for Perfect Pitch would not have been an easy one. A movie about college a cappella groups?! Taking its cue from a non-fiction book on this theme, the film is not just about singing, it is a pitch for women singing and competing. A chauvinist leader of the men’s group, The Treble-makers, offers the opinion that women can’t compete because they can’t reach the low-pitched notes. The final competition, of course, puts paid to that theory.
The audience is urged to think about all these issues through the device of having a pair of media commentators at each competition. The style is straight out of Best in Show with John Michael Higgins of that film performing the role that Fred Willard did so well. He is given some outrageously sexist lines and is finally accused of being misogynist by his co-compere, Elizabeth Banks, who can give as good as she gets.
Meanwhile, this is a story about Beca going to college whereas she wants to go to LA to be a music producer. After pressure from her father, she joins the Barden Bellas, the college a cappella women’s group. They are a motley crew, trying to build on their disaster (well, their controlling leader’s disaster) at the previous year’s finals. There is humour in Anna Camp’s tall blonde fascist leader. And there is more humour in the participation of Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy (she calls herself to save others calling her this behind her back). Rebel Wilson, from Sydney and here playing a Tasmanian, has been a standout in A Few Best Men, Bridesmaids, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Bachelorette. She has quite a few funny lines and situations and audiences warm to her.
Jesse (Skylar Astin) joins the Treble-makers, works with Beca at the college radio station and is attracted to her. She, however, is rather glacial in the relationship department. This is another good turn from Anna Kendrick (appearing in 2012 in 50/50, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and End of Watch).
Because this is a pleasant film, clashes don’t lead to disaster but to friendships and success.
Pitch Perfect is a pleasant surprise.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out December 6, 2012.