An overwhelming majority of comedies pretend to care about their semi-fleshed out main characters and openly degrade and manipulate their shallow side characters in order to generate laughs. The reason why Pitch Perfect works, and works pretty damn well, is because it has a fondness for and takes the time to understand almost every single person it puts on screen. It doesn’t ridicule them like a stranger might. It teases them in the same way a friend who knows every dirty little secret would tease. That’s not only more honest, it’s far funnier and far more relatable, and there’s not a single character or even larger idea that’s immune from the treatment here.
From Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) bullshit, teenage angstyness to Aubrey’s (Anna Camp) father-instilled and annoying obsession with perfection to the inherent ridiculous nerdiness of a capella competitions themselves, Pitch Perfect celebrates, analyzes and teases all of it. No one is let off the hook and no one’s pratfalls or insecurities completely define them. Even the primary villain, Bumper (Adam DeVine), is allowed to say really funny things and have his own version of a happy ending. It’s all exaggerated--but only in the same way as Mean Girls. Apart from three or four minor instances, the film plays up its characters without making them caricatures, and staying on the right side of that note makes a big difference.
Structured by a very formulaic premise that follows auditions to a final competition, Pitch Perfect nonetheless finds ways to still live in the margins and in the gray areas. The basic story follows a group of girls including Beca, Aubrey, Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) who sing in an all-female a capella group continually bested by their all-male a capella adversaries, but the overall goal is so much bigger than just winning. It’s about getting noses dirty, trying new things and shedding all the baggage accrued through singing competition failures, step-monster intrusions and surprise vocal node flare-ups. It’s about relaxing and having some fun.
And if any movie this year--other than perhaps Magic Mike--knows how to cut loose and have some fun, it’s Pitch Perfect. Buoyed by the year’s best musical montage featuring more than a dozen characters performing Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and further energized by hilarious commentary from Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins during all the a capella performances, the movie never stays in one place too long. It belts out notes in every register and continually nails each of its characters with very specific jokes that work perfectly with their individual personalities. For example: we’re off-handedly told Bumper has introduced a line of sports sandals. If ever a human being would be pumped about such an activity, it’s that clown.
Pitch Perfect works. It has the perfect love-hate relationship with its subject matter and a great sense of humor about itself. It never comes off as preachy or unfair to its characters, and it features dozens of classic lines that should continue to be quoted for years. It's great. A-ca-believe-it!
Pitch Perfect is loaded with exactly the type of special features you would expect from a movie that uses a lot of improvisation. A series of “Line-o-rama” features quick cut through a slew of different hilarious lines left on the cutting room floor. The one involving Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins is the clear stand-out as those two go back and forth rapid-firing as many funny asides as they can think of for possible inclusion in the movie.
The disc also offers quite a few deleted or extended scenes. Most of them are of more of the extended variety with just a few extra added lines of dialogue, but since they let fans watch Fat Amy beatbox and Bumper being all 'bumpy', their inclusion is definitely warranted, as are some special interview segments with Banks’ commentator and a few of the performers after a capella competitions.
Another random and interesting special feature is a music video that cuts together cast performances of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” with those fans taped and sent in themselves. The result is a pretty cool a capella take on the song featuring some snazzy editing. All that, plus behind the scenes footage of Fat Amy’s burrito attack and two commentaries from producers/ director combine to make this Pitch Perfect release a worthwhile and fun purchase.