By the time the credits rolled, I was aware that there were more flaws in Pitch Perfect than I had fingers to count them with. But not a single imperfection was on my mind as I wiped away what tears remained from my emotional response to the final number. All I could think about as I exited the theater was how I’d annoy all my Emerson friends until they saw Pitch Perfect and loved it as much as I had. And when most of them came back complaining about its several problems, I was forced to admit what I already knew.
The secret no one tells you about art school is that it ruins your sense of perspective. Every book has to be Infinite Jest, every TV show John Adams, every movie The Shawshank Redemption or it’s not worth the enlightened student’s precious time or consideration. Worse, owning up to liking something because, “I don’t know, it’s fun,” is a cardinal sin. How plebeian, we’ll say, sipping tea with our pinky fingers waving in the air. How droll.
I’ll admit that the film’s structure was a mess. Remnants of subplots that never made it past the cutting room floor lingered in bits of dialogue. Its running joke was projectile vomit; at least Bridesmaids had the decency to relegate its low-brow humor to just one section. Entire scenes seemed shoehorned in to tie up fairly minor loose ends that could’ve been better handled in a fraction of the time. The acting was fine, though hardly Oscar-worthy. And while its script was fresh and funny, that doesn’t change the fact that the writers were just putting a new spin on the prehistoric “misfits band together to overcome their weirdness and succeed!” trope.
Emerson students, myself included, often get caught up in the quality of production, the craft in the writing, the precision of execution; in the idea of film or books or music as capital-A-Art. We forget, sometimes, that it’s not about making a statement or changing the medium. Most movies exist for the sake of escapism, for a good time on a Friday night after a long week. And by turning up our noses at less “elevated” forms of entertainment, we’re missing out on a chance to be at rest, to turn off the perpetual stream of media criticism in our heads and just enjoy.
This is hardly a condemnation of high art; I’m just as excited for Argo as the next guy, and I have more Bret Easton Ellis on my bookshelf than I know what to do with. But we’re limiting ourselves for the worse if we disregard everything outside of films destined to be part of the Criterion Collection. Sure, we can loudly claim — to anyone who isn’t already sick of our pretentious declaiming — that we have “good taste,” and side-eye anyone who enjoys what we consider beneath our standards. But at what cost? I think we could all afford to overlook a couple plot holes every once in a while.
Pitch Perfect is a great movie that, frankly, just isn’t very good. But it never pretends to be anything more than it is — the story of collegiate girls taking on the often absurd world of competitive acapella that left me wishing with all my heart I could carry a tune. And y’know what? Sometimes we just have to ease up on the scrutiny and let that be enough.