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Laramie Movie Scope:
Pitch Perfect

Not very funny, but some good songs

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 6, 2012 -- The impression I got from early reviews was that this movie was going to be a lot funnier than it turned out to be. But it turns out to be loaded with fat jokes, nerd jokes, projectile vomiting jokes and sex jokes which are well suited to the task of humiliating certain characters in the film, but not well-suited to getting laughs from an audience, at least an audience with heart. What it lacks in genuine comedy, however, it more than makes up for with songs sung in beautiful, tight harmonies.

This is a film which uses the language of sports competition applied to national intercollegiate a capella singing competition. This is sort of like barbershop quartets with dance moves and more singers. Think of the cheerleading competitions in “Bring it On” and the choir singing competition in “Joyful Noise,” released earlier this year. This is a well-worn story idea, which is often coupled, as it is in this film, with romantic comedy.

The story starts with a very reluctant college student, Beca (played by Anna Kendrick of “Up in the Air”) who wants to move to California immediately and become a music producer. She is roped into joining an all-female a capella club on campus, the Bellas, led by the dictatorial leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp of “The Help”). The Bellas are run like some kind of cult, with a lot of unreasonable rules (like who the members can and can't hook up with).

The major competition for the Bellas is another a capella group on the same campus, the Treblemakers, led by an equally insufferable little twit named Bumper (Adam DeVine of the “Workaholics” TV series). Now, you would think Bumper would be focused on singing ability when choosing members of his group, but instead he rejects a great singer, Benji (Ben Platt) because he is not ordinary enough to fit into the group's social dynamics.

One of the off-putting aspects of this movie is how poorly the characters treat each other. Beca's roommate, Kimmy Jin (Jinhee Joung) is rude to her and Beca is rude to her would-be boyfriend, Jesse (Skylar Astin of “Taking Woodstock”). Beca is also rude to her own father and Aubrey is rude to everybody.

With all this rude, nasty, selfish behavior, it easy for a nice character, fun-loving Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson of “Bridesmaids”) to steal every scene she's in, and she didn't need the help. She is also a great singer and dancer. She practically rescues the film (and some of the songs) on her own with her talent, panache and self-confidence. She reminds me a lot of the irrepressible Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” or Nikki Blonsky in “Hairspray.” Another nice character, in fact, the most normal character in the movie, is Jesse, who tries very hard to romance Beca, but is rebuffed so often he finally gives up on her.

It is pretty obvious where all this is going, and it finally gets there at long last. At times however, it seems like it is going to take forever for the film to finally get to the inevitable plot points it has been heading towards for nearly two hours. This is, essentially, a 90 minute film packed into 112 minutes. The musical numbers are slick, the choreography is well-rehearsed and the vocals have studio-quality polish. These are the kind of quality production numbers you expect in a musical. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2012 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)