Sunday, October 7, 2012

PITCH-SLAPPED:  It's not that Pitch Perfect is a bad movie -- if you like formulaic teen movies which end with a singing/dancing/marching band/figure skating/spelling bee competition, it mostly satisfies, and goes above and beyond the call of duty through the awesomeness of Rebel Wilson and the sharpness of some of the writing. (I especially appreciated the college DJ club.)

But I've seen Bring It On (repeatedly), and Pitch Perfect, you're no Bring It On. Here's why:

  • Start with the fact that Anna Kendrick's character hits all of the beats of the Dushku character in Bring It On so exactly that it was disconcerting. Yes, we get it: the formula requires that we get the New Kid Who Reluctantly Joins the Team and Brings Some Attitude to make the good team better (again: yay Drumline), but she doesn't have to be another dark-haired safely-punk-girl in a world of blondes who pushes them to integrate more modern culture into staid routines.
  • One thing which separates this film from its peers in a weird way is that it's never entirely sure whether it's celebrating or mocking the talent in question. Especially through the Elizabeth Banks/John Michael Higgins commentary, the film wants to have it both ways in acknowledging the inherent dorkiness of a capella singing while respecting the effort it takes to do it well, and errs too far on the side of undermining the very point of the movie.
  • Too many plot threads abandoned: was there a romantic triangle with the radio station dude? did Kendrick overcome her daddy issues? were there any repercussions to her arrest? does roommate Kimmy Jin ever not-suck (and, um, did this film have an overall Asian stereotyping problem)? Why not pare things done and ditch the dad and the roommate to either (a) develop a romantic triangle or (b) flesh out more of the surrounding singers?
  • Needs more Clefs.
  • Wish the movie had gone PG so I could've taken Lucy. It unnecessarily went a little harder on the sex and language than the material required.


  1. Watts2:28 PM

    The thing that disconcerted me was the very, very beginning with the previous bitchy leader passing the baton scene that was SO Big Red talking to Torrance.

    For me, Rebel Wilson makes up for A LOT. You couldn't have a character like her in Bring It On. (They had to rejigger some things to get a character of her size in the musical version of Bring It On.)

    The Benji character really won over the audience I saw it with, to the point that when there's the shot that pans from the party up to him in his bedroom, singing along, the whole theater I was in gave out an audibly collective, "Awwww."

  2. Watts2:30 PM

    Also, Bring It On had no projectile vomiting - it was not entirely without vomit, granted - but it did not revel in the barf the way Pitch Perfect did. Memo to Hollywood: I can laugh at things other than puke.

  3. Another dangling thread--Chloe's nodes allegedly allow her to sing lower notes than a female singer normally can, yet when we hear her sing in the finals, it's Brittany Snow's normal (very pretty) voice. I appreciate them wanting to avoid overdubbing, but it's a dangling point.

    I don't know that the scenes with the father were necessary, but he certainly provided a convenient way to get around the "if this girl just wants to be out of here, why would she join this music group" by applying the "and one activity" stipulation.

    Finally, I would have appreciated some sort of acknowledgement that these kids go to class at least once in a while.

  4. Also, two notes with respect to the soundtrack (which is good enough that I hope there'll be a volume 2, covering some of the material not on the present disc, most notably, Beca's mashups):

    1. The "Bellas Regionals" track inexplicably is the straight performance, without the "Platinum" interpolation. Given that it's plot-significant and cool, that really belonged there.

    2. They re-recorded the "No Diggity" intro for the Riff-Off track so we get a much more professional sounding version from Kendrick as opposed to the endearing, somewhat halting version in the movie with the awesome moment when she finally lets it rip at the end of the intro.

  5. G-d, yes. Enough with the bodily fluids. You can do a raunchy comedy and leave these out.

  6. StvMg7:31 AM

    I liked the movie more than you did, but I agree on the plotline regarding the older student at the radio station. Clearly at least one scene there got left on the cutting room floor.

    I also agree with all the comments on the vomiting. That nearly ruined a movie I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit.

  7. Mel Umbarger9:48 AM

    It feels like there were quite a few scenes that got cut that would have explained some of the dangling plot threads. Also, it took me a second viewing to realize that the hot radio DJ was Cormac McLaggen from the Harry Potter movies.

  8. I loved it, and I don't care for a capella as a rule. Sure it was like Bring it On and Drumline, but those were not original plots either - the question is how well the beats are executed, and I thought this hit those beats very well.

  9. Watts1:58 PM

    Another thing PItch Perfect did right - when the women were fighting, it wasn't over a boy (as in they both wanted the same boy) or about each other's appearance or sexual experiences. They were fighting because they had different ideas about how to succeed at the given challenge. Yay for girls not tearing each other down.

  10. Adam B.2:58 PM

    Holy Bechdel Test!

  11. bellawilfer8:42 PM

    This was my favorite thing about the movie. Well, this and, you know, MUSICAL NUMBERS. But seriously - I really appreciated this aspect of it. Also appreciated that Beca's "problem" in the movie was not "I need a boyfriend" but rather "I need girl friends." (Or, really, just "friends," period.) There were definitely dropped threads galore but overall I massively enjoyed it. Except for the barf.

  12. Also, it must be said, I HATE THAT SHE SPELLS MY NAME WRONG.

  13. Marsha12:22 AM

    I was pretty much programmed from birth to like this movie. That said, I continue to believe that is much more a mashup of Sister Act and Sister Act II than Bring It On.

  14. I have to go back and see it again because too much of my time the first time was spent giggling with delight over the fact that there was an a cappella movie.

    Also, one of the categories in the "Riff-Off" spinning wheel was "Songs Ruined by Glee." I appreciated that a lot.

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