Grossing over $115 million at the box office, “Pitch Perfect” (Jason Moore, “Shotgun Wedding”) was the talk of 2012 and had young teenagers itching to become involved in music. As of last month, it’s already been 10 years since the release of this iconic movie, and its reputation continues to make it relevant. From Fat Amy to the “Cups” song to riff-offs, “Pitch Perfect” was a cultural reset that completely redefined a cappella groups, painting the musical style in a new light.
The movie is a perfect blend of comedy, companionship and amazing singing. I’ve loved this movie since its release, and its iconic wittiness and charm allow me to watch it repeatedly without getting tired of it. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love this movie. “Pitch Perfect” is different from a typical teen comedy. Its originality has allowed it to stay relevant for the past decade — not only did the film change the music industry, but it was also an empowering feminist take on a typical rom-com. With predominantly female main characters, it was refreshing and innovative to see how the comedy evolved into a touching story of kinship rather than a classic looking-for-a-guy and falling-in-love story.
The movie is set at Barden University in Pennsylvania, and focuses on the a cappella group the Barden Bellas. After being embarrassed live at a national competition during the last a cappella season, the Bellas are desperate to climb back to the top and recruit new members. When the antisocial freshman Beca joins the all-girl group (Anna Kendrick, “Alice, Darling”), the conservative, traditional Bellas are transformed from mundane to modern. Their style, attitude and songs change as they become an unstoppable dream team in the a cappella community. They end up redefining a cappella through powerful mashups and set inspiring new traditions not widely represented in film before. Every time I watch, the movie has me rooting for the love story, on edge from the competition, falling in love with the sisterhood and laughing at the chaos of it all.
“Pitch Perfect” has remained successful among viewers since its release. The movie has high ratings to this day, and the consensus from fans is that this movie was revolutionary. Fans are excited for a fourth movie to top off the series. “Pitch Perfect” also helped establish many of the actors’ careers. Rebel Wilson became a household name for her beloved role as Fat Amy and continued to star in many blockbuster films such as “The Hustle” and “Isn’t it Romantic.” Even Ben Platt, who had less of a starring role, went on to star in the motion-picture adaptation of the musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” which grossed over $19 million at the box office.
The “Pitch Perfect” soundtrack helped skyrocket the film to success among the masses. Anna Kendrick’s “Cups” video has over 639 million views on YouTube and started a widespread trend that had everyone mimicking the movie’s cup routine. Along with this, the mash-ups prevalent in the film gained popularity because of their unique spin on preexisting songs. I sang the arrangement of “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars and “Just a Dream” by Nelly in my middle school choir class.
In terms of the movie’s impact on the a cappella industry, it significantly increased fan involvement in all things a cappella. After the movie’s release, the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICAA) sold more tickets than ever before and had 10 times as many groups registered to compete after a cappella became “cool.” Even though a cappella has always been around, the release of the movie prompted a modern twist on the seemingly nerdy activity. A cappella concerts became a kind of performance that appealed to younger generations, and its complete refinement wiped away a cappella’s lame connotation.
The film was largely successful because its mission to redefine a cappella was clear. The activity was seen as foolish for many years, and the director was sure to address the stigma behind it. The beginning of the movie pokes fun at the stereotypical a cappella performances, helping win moviegoers over. The Barden Bellas’ early performances are almost robotic, with outdated songs boring the audience to sleep. It’s obvious no one wanted to hear the Barden Bellas and their ancient, mind-numbing music and synchronized stepping. As the movie progresses, there is a clear shift in energy as the Bellas improve their audience engagement. They interact with the crowd, sing age-relevant songs and perform elaborate dance routines with props to excite the audience. The movie works to diminish the stigma around a cappella before proceeding to redefine it, pulling viewers in with the uniqueness of it all. The audience simply needed to rewire their thoughts on a cappella and be introduced to its more innovative form.
“Pitch Perfect” was popular enough for two sequels, and the entire trilogy of movies made over $588 million at the box office. While the sequels are great, the first movie will be forever unbeatable in terms of impact. It reset a cappella culture, and the sequels simply supported that. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Bella, and I’m sure many young girls would say the same. This movie will go down in history for its efforts in modernizing a cappella groups to this day.
Daily Arts Writer Zara Manna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.