It was about five minutes into PITCH PERFECT when I realized that this film was something special. The film opens at the national a cappella championship. The protagonists are quickly introduced as the all-female a cappella group, the Barden Bellas. The women are just a few moments into their song when, completely unexpectedly, the lead singer projectile vomits into the audience. It was completely unexpected, and also completely hilarious. I went into PITCH PERFECT expecting a fairly boilerplate film with a “you go, girl!” message about an all-female a cappella group – but what I got was an endearing, sidesplittingly funny film about a group of women just trying to figure out their place in the world.
PITCH PERFECT follows Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick), a freshman just starting at Barden University. Beca is a typical outsider – she doesn’t want to be at school, and she doesn’t want to make friends. All she really wants is to move to Los Angeles and pursue her dream of being a DJ. Eventually, Beca’s father offers her a deal that is too good to pass up – if she joins a club and sticks with it for an entire year and still hates school, he will pay for her to move to Los Angeles. With their deal in place, Beca joins the Barden Bellas – an a cappella group that is in complete disarray following the aforementioned projectile vomiting incident. The Bellas have become a laughingstock, with only two members as the school year starts. But with Beca’s background in music, the group slowly comes together with a single dream – win at the next national a cappella championship.
The humor in PITCH PERFECT is decidedly my taste. There are a few times when it gets a little too over-the-top, but for the most part, it’s really funny. The bulk of the humor comes from Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). She’s hilarious, and she never misses a beat. Fat Amy is (as the name suggests) very self-aware, while also being a complete free spirit. Without a doubt, she’s the heart and soul of the film. There’s also plenty of laughs to be found in Beca’s dry, sarcastic demeanor – the deadpan delivery plays well with the other characters. I was also a particular fan of Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), an almost inaudible girl who delivers her lines as hushed whispers.
A film like PITCH PERFECT is only as good as the music, and luckily, this film delivers some incredible performances. The songs are mostly 2010s pop hits, with some throwbacks to hits from the 1980s and 1990s. The songs are really done well, and the characters match that great vocal performance with an equally great physical performance as they dance and strut. It all combines into a perfect storm, and it’s very enjoyable. Even if the humor doesn’t land, it’s hard to deny a great musical performance.
PITCH PERFECT was a complete surprise. It subverts expectations at every turn to provide a very funny experience. It’s a film with a good message, and filled with great musical performances. It’s the kind of film you could easily watch again and again – and that’s the sign of a great film experience.