“Pitch Perfect”: An Aca-Film for Aca-People

Review: The indie-comedy about dueling a capella groups is more true to life than you'd think.

Pitch Perfect has, somehow, become one of the fall’s most anticipated movies.

It’s strange really: an indie comedy about dueling college singing groups hardly seems exciting to many people. And yet, Gifford Auditorium was packed with students anxious to see a pre-screening of the film they’d all been hearing so much about. But given the recent surge in the college a cappella scene—college groups making albums, nationwide competitions, even a television show—it seems to me that what has to be credited with the mass appeal of the film has little to do with casting or plot. College a cappella has suddenly become, dare I say it, hip.

What might surprise many viewers of Pitch Perfect once it comes out for the masses is that as corny and campy as a lot of the movie seems, for the most part it’s relatively spot on. I’ve been a member of a group at Syracuse for the past three years and I can attest. The ICCA’s really are that big of a deal. Members of a cappella groups have been known to spontaneously begin singing on streets late at night, car rides really are more like a trip to a karaoke bar and yes, my all female group does sit in a circle periodically to talk about our personal lives so we all feel like we know each other better. The quirkiness and spontaneity of a cappella was surprisingly well captured.

But naturally, there were plenty of points where the multiple members of a cappella groups in the audience were simultaneously laughing and rolling their eyes. We don’t actually make everyone who auditions sing excerpts from Kelly Clarkson songs, we do not recruit members for our group from the showers like an episode of Glee and if someone tried to do what the main character attempts on stage in a real competition, it would not go nearly as smoothly as it did for the Bellas, the group in the film.

At the end of the day, however, Pitch Perfect is a movie. It will be released in theaters and people who know next to nothing about a cappella will see it. And they might enjoy it.

The banter is witty, the characters have some great one-liners and some of them are so over the top that their sheer presence on screen is enough to make you laugh.

What I can’t help wondering is if Pitch Perfect really has the capacity to reach people outside of the a cappella world. It’s hard to believe that some of the jokes would be as funny, some of the characters would be as hilariously outlandish (or as realistic) or that you would be able to move past the incredibly boring plot and dead end characters with forced relationships. For the aca-folk in the audience (another accurate point: we actually do put that word in front of as many things as we can pull off), I think the movie was a strange form of nostalgia for something that hasn’t ended yet.

When you’re in a college a cappella group, it’s a huge part of your life. But college a cappella isn’t the stuff of the big screen, so having a chance to see it portrayed as such seems a little too good to be true. That being said, I’d be surprised if anyone who didn’t preorder their ticket to the Pentatonix concert at the Westcott this fall takes away anything more than a couple of laughs.

Pitch Perfect arrives in theaters on October 5.

Official Trailer:

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