Sunday, October 7, 2012
Don't You (Forget About the 1980s)
That Simple Minds song, however, is also one of the key narrative points of the new college a capella musical, Pitch Perfect. As the two lovebirds at the centre of Jason Moore's effervescent flick make cute with one another, the Skylar Astin character (Yes, "Skylar Astin" is apparently a human name) asks Anna Kendrick's Beca to watch The Breakfast Club. It goes on to become an integral part of the film's final medley number at the a capella performance competition that Beca's campus singing group are a finalist of. The story of Pitch Perfect is inarguably weak sauce, and has even already been done this very year in the Dolly Parton/Queen Latifah choir musical, Joyful Noise. It's actually a bit freaky how similar these two movies are, right on down to how they come to be a finalist, the forbidden romance, and so on.
Seems to me that, especially in Pitch Perfect's case, but also Easy A, that the filmmakers are using our associations with these legitimate classics to bolster the drama of their own movie. "Aw, I love The Breakfast Club, it was so great being reminded of it in Pitch Perfect. Five stars." and so on. In Pitch Perfect's case, in it's effort to become some sort of Bring It On for a new generation, it's a shame that they so obviously echo The Breakfast Club, right on down to its Judd Nelson fistpump moment, rather than forge their own identity. Similarly, just like how the ending of Easy A felt overly simplistic in its aping of Say Anything. Easy A, however, has the bonus of Emma Stone's (not even being hyperbolic here) Oscar-worthy performance for it to become a memorable piece that maybe teen films in 20 years will reference. That's something Pitch Perfect ultimately lacks, and a fate as a lesser cousin to Bring It On and Mean Girls surely awaits.
That's not to say the film isn't entertaining, because it is. It's very much the film one expects it to be. Most will gravitate towards Rebel Wilson's attention-grabbing performance (sometimes for all the wrong reasons), but I was most impressed by Kendrick's rather delicate way of playing her character as somebody who finds the whole thing preposterous, but at the same time enticing, much like Kendrick herself must have felt about the film itself. She's a good singer, too, and her rendition of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is sublime with the beautiful harmonies in the background. I wonder though when Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Beuller's Day Off, and all the other '80s teen relics will get their referencing moment to shine? Where's this generation's Jake Ryan, and how obvious will they make the reference, hmmm? Hopefully no Long Duk Dong copycats are waiting to emerge.