“Pitch Perfect”
Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a freshman at a small Midwestern college where her Dad is a professor, meaning that she is expected to go there and like it, because it’s free. However, she really just wants to be a D.J. in L.A. Plus, she can’t stand her Stepmom, and won’t have anything to do with her. She has no boyfriend, and doesn’t know anyone on campus besides her father, whose presence she tolerates only for short periods. She’s beyond independent, she’s emotionally unavailable. It doesn’t even bother her that her roommate doesn’t speak to her. She just puts on her headphones and re-arranges music on her laptop.
Her Dad, exasperated at her lack of even trying to get out there and make some friends, finally insists that she join at least one activity, or else. Or else she won’t get to go to college at all. That’s tempting to her, but somewhere deep inside she realizes that she might be wasting an opportunity, so reluctantly she joins an “a capella” singing group called The Bellas.
The Bellas think they’re hot stuff, going to competitions and practicing rigorously for hours, but Beca thinks their musical choices are lame and their choreography is boring. But they don’t seem to care about any of her suggestions. In fact, they don’t seem to care if they even know anything about her personally or not; it’s all about the choral discipline.
Meanwhile, there’s this nice guy, Jesse (Skylar Astin), who’s trying to show interest in Beca, but not making much headway. He’s a member of the corresponding boys’ “a capella” chorus at the school, and there’s more than friendly rivalry between the groups, they openly ridicule each other.
OK, now that we’ve set up the relational dynamics, the rest is really just an excuse for concert footage. Kind of like the college version of “Glee,” except even the percussion is supposed to be “natural,” that is, with voices only. (Never mind that they sneak in some instrumentation during the final competition.)
Really, the best parts of this movie are when the participants seem to be just randomly and spontaneously singing, like on the college square, or on the bus, or even in the dorm shower (don’t worry, parents, it’s still very PG-13). Anna Kendrick has a nice voice, though we don’t expect her to become the next Adelle. The romance is almost Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello-type of innocent, it all builds up to a little kiss at the end. The girls in The Bellas seem to be not very supportive of each other, until they finally realize that they should be best friends, and so they suddenly are.
Is there anything in this for the guys? Not unless you come from a religious tradition, like Church of Christ or Mennonite, that enjoys singing without instruments, or you have a crush on Anna Kendrick, who’s about a decade too old for the part, but then, so is everybody else in the cast, which makes it more like “Glee” than it wants to be.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving, Texas