Jason Moore’s Pitch Perfect has a simple design, mixing the radio-friendly pop music savvy of Glee with the female-centric gross-out antics of Bridesmaids (2011), all while delving into the theoretically quirky world of competitive a capella groups. While there’s certainly an audience for this concept, the rest of us will have to look past the predictable writing, dull direction, bland music, poor casting and bloated runtime to get anything from this movie. There’s little here that speaks to originality (right down to a poster that basically rips off Bridesmaids) or tact, instead this is a systemically bad movie that will be a tough slog if you’re not in the midst of its target audience.
Anna Kendrick — perhaps film’s least angsty, edgy 27-year-old — plays Beca, an angsty, edgy college freshman, who’s forced by her father (John Benjamin Hickey, Transformers: Rise of the Fallen) to go to a college full of a variety of 20- and 30-somethings instead of running off to LA to make music. It seems Beca has her eye on being a DJ and music producer, but before she’s allowed to move out West, dad asks that she at least make a go of higher education. So she joins The Bellas, a misfit all-female a capella group, who the year before had their dreams dashed when their leader (Anna Camp, The Help) violently vomited onstage at the national finals, and then were defeated by their archrivals, the bros of The Treblemakers. All of this gets complicated when Beca begins to fall for Jesse (Dane Cook lookalike Skylar Astin, Taking Woodstock), the good-hearted member of The Treblemakers.
The rest of the film is horribly and numbingly predictable, especially for a movie that, at one point, complains about the predictability of movies. The plot is wholly utilitarian, and moves like it’s crossing out items on a checklist, which is compounded by Pitch Perfect’s nearly two-hour-long runtime. The humor is of the oddball variety — often far too broad, ham-fisted and playing to the back row, while far too reliant on non sequiturs and ad libs from Rebel Wilson (What to Expect When You’re Expecting). Yeah, there’s the gross-out stuff, mostly consisting of lame anatomical jokes and the aforementioned vomit. Pitch Perfect wants so much to be Bridesmaids, but lacks the moxie to go for the full R-rated treatment.
The musical numbers — which, in theory, should be the film’s most pleasant respites — are a collection of the worst of pop radio, garishly arranged into less than stellar a capella renditions, and shot by Moore in the most lackadaisical, unimaginative fashions possible. When it’s not being laboriously drawn out, the bulk of Pitch Perfect borders on some type of obnoxious — whether it be its taste in music, its sense of humor or its refusal to be the least bit interesting as filmmaking. Rated PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references.
Playing at Carmike 10, Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande