Pitch Perfect, a comedy about collegiate a capella singing groups, opened Friday. This film is everything Glee isn’t: Nerds not welcome; no overpowering pop instrumentation accompanying performances in halls, classrooms and on streets; and an absence of innocence. The similarities between NBC’s defunct series Sing Off and Pitch Perfect are inescapable: collegiate a capella choruses competing against each other; human beat boxes; tacky costumes; blatant sexuality, and dancing that is more calisthenics than choreography.
The musical arrangements make this film; intricate harmonies, supported by rhythm sections that defy explanation. There are a few tracks in this film that are orchestrated, but all of the competition singing is by mouth alone.
Rebel Wilson (Fat Annie) steals every scene she is in. An unexpected Hollywood “it” girl, the Australian portrays a super confident co-ed who pities her too skinny chorus members. “You have fat hearts,” Wilson’s character softens the pity with praise.
At the outset of the film the Barden Bellas – the all-female chorus – is an incubator for Young Republicans. That cookie cutter chorus with a long tradition plays it safe, singing the tried and true. By film’s end the plot has unfolded with few surprises. The ingenue, a misfit musical genius with her finger on the pulse of popular music and the slides of a digital sound mixer, is forced to join the chorus, eventually injecting mash-ups and energy into the group’s repertoire.
This is not a film for tweens who want to grow up to be just like Vanessa Hudgens or Zac Efron. Pitch Perfect is more Animal House than High School Musical.