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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Pitch Perfect’ hits the right note

Published: January 24, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

A cappella has recently become more prominent, with shows such as “The Sing Off” and the increasing popularity of a cappella groups on college campuses. The release of “Pitch Perfect” in 2012 makes perfect sense. Following a college first-year during her first few weeks of school, this film is a realistic portrayal of the typical experience of the first semester at college. Beca (Anna Kendrick) searches for activities on campus that will further her music career.

Beca’s character is an exciting change from the typical characters that are in college-geared movies. There are complexities to her character that make her different. She adheres to one of the stereotypes—she’s pretty—but she also defies this with her dark makeup and slightly darker façade. On the other hand, Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Aubrey (Anna Camp), two of Beca’s classmates, fulfill the stereotype completely: attractive and very much put together. The male lead, Jesse (Skylar Astin) is the perfect character to mirror Beca. He is a loveable character for whom you root, then hate, then root for again.

Skylar’s roommate Benji (Ben Platt) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), both provide much needed humor to the movie. Without their lines and humorous personalities, the film would be very much anticipated and unsurprising. The message the movie gives off about acceptance for different people and recognizing talent is refreshing. In the beginning, Aubrey and Chloe attempt to be selective in who they pick to join the Barton Bellas, their singing group. Scenes later, however, they’ve proven to accept even the less “typical” college students into the group.

The friendly, but sometimes overly-competitive, rivalry with the Treble Makers (the male-only a cappella group) can get a bit over dramatic at some points. And the Bellas’ prohibition to have any sort of relationship with a Treble Maker also seems to be a riff on the story of Romeo and Juliet. The familiar story lines—combined with some typical characters frequently seen in movies based on college campuses—is made unique by the music. In fact, arrangements of familiar songs make the movie exciting to watch.

This movie appeals to a wide variety of ages: the humor is appropriate for pre-teens and the movie also pulls in the interest of people now out of college, but who are interested in music. The covers are different from what is available on YouTube, or even from the original song. These are mash-ups, combinations of two or three songs put into one arrangement, and they are enjoyable and different, adding a new dimension to the movie.

Throughout the movie, I looked forward to seeing what they would sing next, and how they would sing it. The story of friendship and finding that one “group” that you feel like you fit in with at college is a familiar story for current college students, and those who remember how it felt to find that group. The classic love story is a pleasant add-on for the movie, as it adds appeal for a certain demographic. And these days, audiences want to see love conquer all at the movies.

Some college movies don’t have a realistic portrayal of what college is like, but “Pitch Perfect” is an accurate portrayal. There are different students who do not all look like sticks and are attractive, and there are the boys who are not all-star athletes. Rather, they have their quirks that make them individuals. “Pitch Perfect” does incorporate certain aspects of college, such as fraternities, but they are not the central part of the movie.

The overarching message is that friendship is the most important thing to strive for, and that sometimes friendship comes from the places you would least expect. This message makes this movie one that could set an example to a younger generation, for it could help them avoid thoughts about college or even high school that are unrealistic. It’s an important message for young girls to hear and understand.

At first, I was skeptical about the characters and the overall plot, thinking the unfriendly roommate, the perfect selective “popular” girls, and the hot shots on campus were too typical and repetitive. After watching the movie again, Beca and the Barton Bellas came out as the underdogs and, therefore, the characters I ended up rooting for throughout the movie. I realized that the characters are realistic, different and a refreshing break from every other college campus-geared movie typically released. This movie is aca-perfect for a movie night with friends or family.