Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Pitch Perfect
January 20th, 2013
Pitch Perfect came out in select theaters in September, which is usually a terrible way to release a movie and time of the year. However, it earned an impressive per theater average during its opening weekend, enough to warrant a wide expansion. Over the following weekends, it held on well enough to become a solid midlevel hit. By the time it reached the home market, it was already profitable, thanks in part to is low production budget. The film is clearly aimed at fans of the many music-centered TV shows, like Glee or Smash, but will it have much crossover appeal?
The film begins at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, where the Treblemakers are wowing the crowd and the judges. Up next are the Bellas, but far from wowing the judges, their leader, Aubrey Posen, pukes on the crowd.
We flash forward four months, where we meet Becca Mitchell as she arrives at Barden College. Becca is not the most outgoing person, but she's bubbly compared to her near mute new roommate, Kimmy Jin. (I think she says four sentences the entire movie. One of them is, "No.") We also meet Jesse Swanson, whom we meet as he's singing to the radio, and his new roommate, Benji Applebaum, who is a Star Wars nerd and a stage magician. When Becca's father, and professor at the college, comes to visit, it is clear she doesn't want to go to college. She wants to head to L.A. and start working in the music industry. She wants to be a music producer, but that's a goal her father doesn't even understand. In order to escape, she heads off to the Activities Fair.
There we see both the Treblemakers and the Bellas trying to recruit new members. However, after the mess that happened last year, no one is interested in joining the Bellas and Aubrey and Chloe. Almost no one. They do find a new recruit in Fat Amy. When Becca walks by, they try to recruit her, but Becca blows them off, calling A Cappella lame and claiming she can't even sing. She does find out that there's a college radio station that is looking for interns. However, Jesse is also an intern there and he instantly likes her. She doesn't like anyone.
After her father finds out she's been skipping classes, he makes Becca a deal. If she joins a club, meets some new people, and sticks it out till the end of the year, and she still doesn't like college, he will help her move to L.A. But what club will she join? Hmmm.... That decision is made easier when she goes to the shower and like many people, she sings in the shower. Chloe, who is in the shower with her boyfriend, hears her sing and walks right into the shower to talk to her about it. Despite the fact that they are both naked, she refuses to leave until Becca agrees to sing with her and try out for the Bellas. There's a full audition, including Becca, Fat Amy, as well as Jesse and Benji, who are trying out for the Treblemakers.
Obviously Becca makes it in (if not, there would be no movie). Meanwhile, Jesse makes the Treblemakers. This is a bit of a problem, because Aubrey is a bit of a psychopath and runs the Bellas with an iron fist. One of her rules is not fraternizing with the Treblemakers. She's very strict on this point and boots out two women who break the rules, putting them down to just eight singers. The two clash over Aubrey's rules, her devotion to traditions, her choice of music, and of course, their attitudes.
Aubrey is able to lead the group to second place at the Southwestern Regionals, but after the competition, the Treblemakers get into a fight with the Tonehangers. When Jesse is challenged by one of the group, Becca steps in to defend him and in the ensuing chaos, a window is broken and Becca is arrested. Worse still, Jesse calls her dad to bail her out. This of course makes Becca really mad at Jesse, while her father reneges on his deal to help her move to Los Angeles.
At the semi-finals, Becca realizes they are going to lose because of their stale music selection and tries to liven things up. The crowd loves it, but Aubrey freaks out afterward and despite Chloe defending her, Becca quits on the spot. (She also yells at Jesse, who tried to defend her.)
Pitch Perfect is like your typical inspirational sports movie mixed with a romantic comedy. There are a lot of cliches from these two genres, and I don't think this film missed any of them. Fortunately, the film has a great cast and is willing to take some chances along the way. Anna Kendrick is an amazing actress and she has the vocal talent to carry a film like this. She is also supported by a great cast, including Rebel Wilson, who has incredible star potential. Anna Camp maintains the balance between "bitchy", for lack of a better term, and sympathetic. Many of the other Bellas are more one-note, like Mae Lee Hanna, who plays the mousy and slightly deranged Lilly. (Watch the movie with the subtitles on to hear what she's saying. It adds to her character.) Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin have good chemistry together, which is essential for a romantic comedy. Finally, there's a lot of really good music with a good diversity of styles and genre.
The film was a bigger than expected hit and the studio is thanking the fans by putting out a fully loaded DVD and Blu-ray, starting with two audio commentary tracks. There's not a lot of crossover here, so they are both worth checking out. There's a music video for Nicki Minaj's "Starships", done by the cast and fans who sent in clips of their performances. There are 16-minutes of deleted scenes. Meanwhile... has more deleted scenes, this time improvised bits cut out with a total running time of 19 minutes. Line-o-rama has 13 more minutes of improvised lines (most of these are exclusive to the Blu-ray). Backstage At Barden has interviews with some of the characters. On The Set: Burrito Drive By! is a short look at the shooting of the burrito scene. Finally A Look Inside is your standard fluffy making of featurette.
The film's technical presentation is excellent. The film was shot digitally and the film looks impeccable. The level of details is very high, the colors are very vivid, the blacks are inky deep. There are a lot of dark scenes, but that's never an issue. The audio is equally strong with very clear dialogue and excellent separation, while the musical numbers come from every speaker.
The Blu-ray only costs 20% more than the DVD, which is an excellent deal, especially since the Blu-ray comes with the DVD.
There's not a lot new in Pitch Perfect, but if you are a fan of the music, it is absolutely worth owning. Even if you are not a fan of the music, the cast do a lot to elevate the film above the genre. There are plenty of extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray, with the latter being worth picking up over the former.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, Pitch Perfect