Pitch Perfect (2012)

This could be a whole new direction for the site, reviewing rom-coms and frothy comedies…

Pitch Perfect was the inaugural movie of a new workplace cultural society, and as such deserves treating with a bit of respect. So the good points first: Elizabeth Banks. OK, she’s on auto-pilot throughout and you could remove all but one of her scenes without affecting the plot at all. Her Greek Chorus role is very reminiscent of the one she played in The Hunger Games, though thankfully with less make-up, and she just about got me through to the end of the movie.

The bad points: everything else. OK, the movie has a relentlessly cheerful attitude which might be infectious if you watch it out of your head, but it’s so lazy that it doesn’t earn our charity. The heroine is a spoilt brat who maybe got her college place due to her father being a lecturer, and once she gets over her initial autumn term sulk, she finds herself surrounded by a hideous cabal of unlikable minority stereotypes. We’re supposed to love them cos they’re all quirky and are victims of being bullied into conformity by The Man. Or in this case, the uptight girl who runs their a capella singing group.

(At this point I thought ‘Really? They’ve made a movie based on a capella’? Well, not only that, it’s based on a book. A book about an a capella girl group. Just think about that)

The girls’ other saving grace is that the other a capella groups at the college are more unpleasant than they are, and are male, and haven’t even got the advantage of being carefully diverse. Actually, our girls’ diversity is a bit of a cheat as the black girl is also the token lesbian, and although she’s a bit porky, she misses out on the part of the Official Fat One only because there’s a bigger girl who’s also playing an Australian. Both Asian girls are a bit odd, and there’s a black kid who turns out… it might be best not to think about the racial politics of the movie too much so I won’t.

Anyway our girls end up at the A Capella Cup Final where our heroine gets her way and injects some modernity into the boring old classics. (I also find that singing Beyoncé over Mozart improves it no end..) And maybe they learn to love themselves and each other, warts and all.  And maybe acknowledge that The Breakfast Club is an all-time classic movie, which shows better than anything the poverty of aspiration of this movie.

Mild Peril Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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