Of all the things I inherited from my father (a passion for the eighties, a deep appreciation of garlic, the knowledge to pop perfect stovetop popcorn), his most influential gift came as a shock. I never imagined that my large, Hispanic father with scars on each eyebrow and a scrutinizing intense stare would share with me his passion for the 2012 musical comedy, Pitch Perfect. Granted, I am aware of his love of musicals, as his favorite movie from 1979 to 2013 was Grease. However, the extent of his passion for Pitch Perfect unquestioningly surpasses any emotion he ever felt for any movie ever.
Pitch Perfect follows the story of Beca Mitchell, an incoming college freshman whose dream is to professionally produce music. When she arrives to her new school, Barden University, she is prompted to join the Barden Bellas, a disgraced, on-campus, all-female acapella team on their journey to the national championships in hope of redemption. What about this plot prompts a 47 year-old computer engineer to rent this movie 5 times on-demand is beyond me.
As Beca goes through her first year she learns about herself and develops relationships with each of her fellow aca-people, betraying her lone-wolf approach to life. The movie is almost exclusively a non-stop pop music montage fueled by oneliners and song mash-ups that were outdated even at the time of its release. Not the most obvious instant family favorite, but it manages to outrank the Christmas classic Home Alone (1990) on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the almost aggressively cheesy formula of this movie does not thwart my father’s affection, but actually fuels it. He believes it parallels the clichés of the movies he grew up with (an homage to the year 1985; garnished with an unnecessary romantic subplot and served with a side of redemption.)
The music that drives this narrative is so overwhelmingly over-produced that being believably acapella is out of the question. Regardless, my expectations of actual acapella was elevated proportionally to a teenage boy’s belief that sex is like porn. So much so that my enthusiasm for attending my first acapella concert went from “intrigued” to “aca-disappointed” within the first 5 notes. Another example of deceitful movie magic at its worst.
This “film” somehow managed to inspire not one, but TWO underwhelming sequels. The general movie formula stands true that as the number of movies in a franchise increases, the quality decreases exponentially. According to my father, Pitch Perfect 2 is “Better than Grease 2” in terms of disappointing sequels, as some of the general population of moviegoers has at least heard of Pitch Perfect 2 and acknowledge its existence. The most recent addition to the Pitch Perfect saga is so inadequate that I refuse to name it. I mean, who asked for a third Pitch Perfect?! Where is the demand for this movie? Did it add ANYTHING to the narrative? NO. Yet here it is, existing. You’d think after dragging the whole family to watch PP2 in theaters on opening day, only to be collectively disappointed, my father would learn his lesson, but that man has an unexplained, unwavering, and unnatural loyalty to Anna Kendrick and her musical hijinks.
Pitch Perfect has become a forced father-daughter tradition. We have “matched pitch” approximately once every two months every year since we purchased it on DVD in 2013. If being my father’s daughter means watching Pitch Perfect upwards of 20 times on its own, as a sing-along, and with director commentary, I have no choice but to comply. Thanks to my father, I can tell you more about the making of Pitch Perfect than I can the psychology exam I spent weeks studying for.
When parents integrate their personal interests into their parenting (for example: forcing a child to play sports, or participate in certain extracurriculars, or watch the same movie until they want to throw the aca-DVD out of the aca-freaking window) I’ve found that the best way to deal with it is to wait until they outgrow their passion, or find a new passion, or simply begin to focus on themselves and how they can enjoy their own hobbies. It doesn’t always work out, though. Look at me, I’ve been waiting 6 years and I still can’t shake the acapella cloud that looms over my family, my memory, and my music library.