Making the Grades
I went into Pitch Perfect with anything but high expectations of discovering an artistically solid presentation or recommending this movie to the teen audience it’s undoubtedly going to attract. Amazingly by the time the credits rolled I was pleasantly surprised on one count —but even more disappointed on another.
In case you haven’t heard, a cappella is alive and thriving on many US college campuses and fictional Barden University is no exception. Beca (Anna Kendrick) has just found her new dorm and is trolling the campus to see what extracurricular clubs are available. Strangely at Barden U, vocal singing groups outnumber virtually any other category. Prominent among the harmonious offerings are a male group called The Treblemakers and a girls coalition known as the Barden Bellas. Both are locked in competition at regional and national contests.
Last year’s big sing-off didn’t go so well for the girls after their leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), succumbed to a nervous condition that causes her to vomit in a way that can only happen with a special effects crew. The unforgettable incident, along with the loss of many of the singers, has her and her best friend Chloe (Brittany Snow) eagerly recruiting new talent. Hearing Beca crooning while showering, Chloe immediately bursts into a cubicle and begs her to join. After overcoming the shock of the naked sales job, Beca and a crew of other misfits, join the Bellas.
Meanwhile the Treblemakers are planning yet another winning year and have added Jesse (Skylar Astin) to their team. This complicates things for Beca because he also works with her at the campus radio station. Their increasing fondness for one another is also provoking Aubrey’s suspicions that Beca may break one of the Bellas’ cardinal rules: No member can have sex with a Treblemaker.
With the females driving the story, talk of casual sex makes the act sound as commonplace as going for a burger. And when characters aren’t talking about sex they are usually cracking sexual jokes. This innuendo and banter fills up much of the screen time. Women’s costumes are revealing too, with the Bella’s showing off much more than their vocal chords. Profanities are just as plentiful with many partial references to the usual sexual expletive along with frequent scatological slang, crude anatomical terms, religious expletives and sexual finger gestures.
Sporting a stylish soundtrack that may earn just as much money as the movie itself, and with a large roster of quirky characters spouting cheeky lines and delivering good performances, teens and 20-somethings will likely be social networking about this title after they leave the theater. However, while Pitch Perfect is poised to be singing all the way to the box office bank, it is claiming bankruptcy on its morality account.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Pitch Perfect.
How does this movie deal with body image? Which characters are typically portrayed in sensual situations? How do the women use their bodies as part of their musical performance? Do the men use similar methods to maintain the audience’s attention?