Coin Flip: Chick Flick

Pitch Perfect

I have gone on the record, repeatedly, saying that I will watch anything at least once. Any movie, any TV show. You can put me in front of it and I'll willing give it a shot. So long as it's not anime (because reasons) I'm on board for watching something if I haven't seen it before.

And sometimes even anime makes the cut. As my wife will attest, forcing me to watch My Neighbor Totoro was anů interesting experience. Certainly my live tweets of that movie were entertaining.

A number of people (male and female) have said, "oh, you really need to watch Pitch Perfect." I'm not exactly certain why they felt this was a must-watch movie for me since I'm not exactly a fan of musicals (if by "not exactly" we mean "not at all") nor do I go out of my way to watch competition flicks (be they sports, cheerleading, dance, etc.) -- all these movies end one of two ways: either with the team winning and learning something in the process, or with the team losing and learning something in the process. Learning is always involved, because apparently to compete is really to learn about yourself.

And yet, repeatedly, I was told Pitch Perfect was, somehow, a must watch. So, when it randomly popped up while I was channel surfing, I figured it was time to bite the bullet and get it out of the way so people would stop harassing me.

I will say that the movie is pleasantly amusing, but I really don't get what all the hype is about.

For those of you that haven't seen the movie (which may be most of us since I primarily discuss Sci-Fi, Horror, and Superhero Flicks on this blog), Pitch Perfect concerns itself with the world of competitive a capella (a competitive world I have to assume doesn't exist -- in one of the better running jokes in the movie the absurdity of this plotline is pointed out with such a straight face, you laugh yet go, "wait, please tell me that's not a thing"). One group, the Bellas, are trying to rebuild themselves after terrible incident at the previous year's national competition (because every competition ends in "Nationals" -- again, it's properly absurd).

Enter the grumpy "alternative" chick, Beca (Anna Kendrick), who will end up finding herself and becoming the key member that not only helps all the girls in the group pull themselves together, but also the leader that gives them the edge they'll need to be a force at Nationals. It's a pretty rote plot, really, and you can see most of the beats coming a mile away.

That is, really, one of the many issues I have with this movie -- despite pretending early on the movie is above the tropes of the genre (when told that the a capella groups get together and sing in competitions, Beca asks, "for fun?") it very quickly snuggles into hitting all the same beats every other competition movie goes through. Seriously, swap out singing for dancing and this would be another Step Up flick. Shift it to basketball and it would be the first Lady Hoosiers. It's a tired plotline and it's hard to care for the characters when everyone is going through the same motions we've all seen before.

Beyond that, there were a few major plot issues I just couldn't get my head around. Beca is a DJ (as in she takes two songs she finds online and mashes them up, and somehow making these mashups makes her think she can be a professional DJ). Her dad doesn't think this is a good career path, but Beca swears she just wants to go into the music industry. So the deal is she has to do well in school and try to meet new people (since she's such a loner), and if she does that, he'll pay for her to move to L.A. and get a job in the industry.

All fine and dandy -- gives her character some motivation. And yet, she gets into competitive singing, yet another job in the industry he says he doesn't think is worth her time, but instead of having issues with this, he acts like this is a great idea. "Of course you should sing," he probably said in a deleted scene. "Music is obviously a great career path, and I say that with a straight face. I am in no way countermanding a point I made earlier. Not at all."

Plus, there's a scene part way in where Beca accidentally (very much an accident) destroys property at a performance with the Bellas. She is then arrested and her father has to bail her out. He's very upset and even says something about how, "this is a terrible waste of her time and talents." How can this guy, who plainly hates the people Beca is hanging out with, who manage to get her into trouble, then be fine with her being a part of this group a few scenes later?

Plus, for the record, nothing is EVER said about that arrest again. That's just another dangling plot point that was plainly set up for "friction" and not to actually motivate anyone. No one ever pays for damages, she's never taken to court (at least, unless that's the plot of Pitch Perfect 2). It's just this thing that happens and then goes away.

Honestly, if Beca hadn't been played by Anna Kendrick -- a very funny, very gifted actress -- she would be an awful person. But she is, so you just end up shrugging off her attitude and many of the movie's issues because Kendricks is so damn likeable.

And that's really how most of the movie runs -- it doesn't always make sense, but the characters are largely likeable and the music is pretty good (I'm pretty sure the flick has a platinum-selling soundtrack so, if you're really into top 40 pop hit-mashups sung a capella, this is the movie for you). It's a decent enough flick, and it's good to see another female-driven movie (there just aren't enough of these). I wouldn't give this movie an A+ by any standard, by I didn't hate it while I watched it, so I guess that's something.

So now I've seen it. Please stop asking.