Lately I’ve been doing a little thought experiment about what would happen if someone built a machine that could, through some process, assign definitive objective merit to a work of art. How would society change if such a machine existed? Would we be surprised by how it scored things? Would we rebel against the machine and try to make art specifically tailored to earn a poor score? And could the machine in turn, see the genius in some of this anti-machine art and score it highly anyway?
Listen man, I don’t know. It’s just a thought experiment.
But in my mind (which is all that counts because this is a thought experiment after all) if such a machine existed it probably wouldn’t score Pitch Perfect very highly.
And you could easily justify that score. Because at its core Pitch Perfect is really a shallow and occasionally mean-spirited bit of fluff.
There’s very little plot to speak of. Scenes happen one after the other, but rarely do you get the idea that they’re connected to each other causally. The Bellas get together, they sing a few times, the argue about what to sing a bunch of times, and then they’re at the finals and the movie is over. There’s a romantic subplot with Anna Kendrick’s Beca and some guy, but it is possibly the laziest “date and then break-up for basically no reason just so we can get back together at the end” plot I’ve ever seen in a movie.
And then there’s the fact that Pitch Perfect doesn’t seem to like any of its characters. All the singers are portrayed either as hopeless nerds or over-obsessed control freaks (excepting Anna Kendrick, who of course doesn’t really care about singing well, she just stumbled into be amazing at it on her way to being something much cooler like a DJ). The mix is rounded out by a black person and a lesbian (who are one and the same person, so we can check off two minority bingo squares with one character!) and a girl whose only defining characteristic is that she likes to have a lot of sex.
There is a reason we don’t let a machine tell us what movies are good and which ones are bad.
Because Pitch Perfect, for all of its obvious imperfections is a whole heck of a lot of fun. The humor isn’t particularly smart most of the time, but the delivery is impeccable, and while some of the jokes may not stick the landing you know there’s another one coming just around the corner.
And then there’s the singing. Obviously some of you out there take objection to that style of music, but from where I’m sitting the arrangements were both wildly entertaining and technically impressive.
The charms of Pitch Perfect are ultimately superficial, but they’re remarkable nonetheless.
All told Pitch Perfect is like a big ball of cotton candy. It has no nutritional value and it’s mostly empty, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying it every once in a while.
Albert was born in the swamps of Florida and quickly developed a gripping writing style by wrestling with crocodiles. Albert is the author of The Mulch Pile and A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw.
To hear more of our thoughts on Pitch Perfect check out Episode 157 of the Human Echoes Podcast.