By Will Ashton | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pitch Perfect | Directed by Jason Moore | Rated PG-13
After her Oscar-nominated turn in Up in the Air, which I consider to be the best film of 2009, Kendrick has gone on to co-star in some great (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 50/50) and not-so-great (the Twilight series…) films in her young career.
But in 2012, she’ll star in her first starring role in Pitch Perfect, which is one of five films she is starring in this year: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, ParaNorman, End of Watch, and The Company You Keep.
Kendrick plays Beca, a freshman at Barden University who is also a young DJ pursuing a career in the music industry in L.A. Forced into college by her father, she remains an outsider among her peers, refusing to go to classes and not a member of any clubs.
Disapproving of her isolated lifestyle, her father makes a deal with her. If she applies herself in school and joins at least one club, she will financially support her trip to L.A. Additionally, if she still hates college after one year, she can quit.
When it comes to clubs, Barden University is known particularly for one: a cappella groups. With tensions higher than ever between the male and female groups — especially after an unfortunate incident that happened with the female a cappella group in finals — the female groups are searching desperately for new members to win this year.
While searching, they stumble upon Beca’s talents. In addition to her DJ talents, Beca is also an extremely talented singer. After practically being forced to join the group, Beca believes her group’s second-rate status is due to its inability to adapt itself into the 21st century. Through Beca, the group learns to change themselves into winners, and become strong forces in the a cappella world.
Based on the novel of the same title by Mickey Rapkin, the film definitely displays a strong sense of spirit and liveliness. It’s practically the equivalent of throwing Glee and Bring It On into a blender, then pouring the results onto film. It’s watchable enough, and Kendrick is as charming and likable as ever, but the film ultimately never quite gels together.
It’s not without its bright spots. Kendrick has already being mentioned but also the chemistry she shares with co-star Skylar Astin feels surprisingly genuine. Additionally, supporting roles from Elizabeth Banks (who also produces) and Hana Mae Lee provide some chuckles.
But ultimately, the film can’t shake off its weaknesses, which come mainly from being so formulaic and also not being very clever or funny throughout.
The cast is spunky enough for the material, and they seem pretty aware of the absurdity of its plot. But what can they do if they are without any good material? And the film tries oh-so-hard to say that its rising co-star Rebel Wilson is hilarious, but she’s not…. at all. Not in this film, at least.
It’s not painful, and it’s hard for me to be against a movie that actually includes a pro-film loving subplot, but Pitch Perfect just doesn’t have the chops to make itself a good comedy. It’s certainly not the worst comedy I’ve seen this year (don’t worry, That’s My Boy, you still hold THAT honor…), but its still not that good. The most disappointing thing here is that it wastes the talent of Kendrick in her first lead role. But she’s still young, and can make it up with the rest of her career, or maybe even this year alone.
Pitch Perfect, however, just isn’t that.