Pitch Perfect (2005) falls flat on its girl power promises
Taking centerstage, rebel queen Becca (Anna Kendrick) wants to be a DJ more than anything. After she begrudgingly accepts her father to pay tuition for college as a backup plan, she joins an all-girls acapella group that's trying to recover from major embarrassment at a prestigious competition. With different ideas and musical styles, she knows she can lead them to victory. But in order to help them to success, she has to earn her spot alongside other newbies and learns that being by herself isn't as necessary as she thinks it is.
For its leading lady, the story sails along as she moves from a loner closing off everyone around her to finding her voice and place in the Barden Bellas. The group itself is filled with misfits just like her, reaching for success everyone hopes to achieve. But knocking down the movie's awesome music and hit-and-miss comedy is that the rest of the girls don't fare in originality or depth.
Everyone around Becca exists to reassure us what trope they represent. The girls might not need men to sustain them, and refreshingly, a majority of their musical prowess is about hitting those high notes and making their dreams come true. As much as that empowerment shimmers with inspiration, supporting characters weaken that united front because they're one-dimensional stereotypes: the ugly dorks, the tomboy, the slut, the fat one, the rebel, the control freak, the lesbian, the ice queen, the kooky foreigner. The movie is not as inclusive as it thinks it is. The proof is in the posters.
minorities aren't treated better as ice queens, kooky foreigners, and the lesbian who comes onto everyone whether they want it or not.
Annoyingly, the movie doesn't know how to make the characters funny without making them gross, raising the question of why female-driven comedies try to be ten times raunchier than men. As the all-boys acapella groups naturally act dorky, selfish, shy, awkward, etc., the girls are forced to make uncomfortable puke and sex humor seem relatable. For every down-to-earth connection or moment between the girls, the writer employed word-vomit dialogue that felt random and induced second-hand embarrassment. Given that this is an all-female led movie in and about entertainment where boys run the show, it would've been nice to see more originality, smarter risks, and deeper sentiments.
In its better moments, humor and heart find their place. At its core, the women are sarcastic, determined, ambitious, loyal, and headstrong, and do their best with the roles they have. Their journey doesn't pit themselves against each other or use others as rungs on the ladder to a-ca-success. In Kendrick's favor, the adorable cups song put her on the map, and Becca is a great role model. Her story is packed with a lot of layers, but it would've been nice if the group had the same vulnerability and growth.
To be honest, Pitch Perfect is fun, if you can look pass a lot of problems, and I can see myself watching it if happens to be television. (But I'm hesitant to see the sequels since I've heard the characters don't get better). The sisterhood and camaraderie of the group give the cast some material to do the best they can, while the musical sequences are purely catchy. Ultimately, if Glee and Mean Girls didn't throw up all over the story, its potential might not have fallen so flat.
Watch instead: Heathers, Mean Girls
Watch instead: Heathers, Mean Girls
Have you seen Pitch Perfect? What do you think?