It's difficult to appropriately describe my scepticism before seeing American musical 'Pitch Perfect' at a press screening in October. The prominence of 'Glee' and 'High School Musical' led me to fear the worst with this latest offering. Yet 'Pitch Perfect' exceeded all expectations - not simply a pleasant surprise but a triumph - one of the most enjoyable films of the year.
Aspiring music producer Beca (Anna Kendrick) is forced to go to Barden University by her father, a professor at the University. With little interest in education, she instead dedicates her time to her producing and working at the University radio station. Her father begrudgingly offers her the opportunity to pursue her chosen career - but only if she shows her dedication by joining a club and sticking it out for the year.
Beca eventually finds herself as a member of The Bellas, a female acapella outfit, who suffered an embarrassing loss in the previous year's College Championship. The loss had led to a complete revamp of the group, who struggle to find new members as well as struggling to cope with the arrogance of bitter rivals, The Treble Makers. Their tensions eventually come to a head, in more than one sense.
The skill of 'Pitch Perfect' is in its deception - at its surface, this is typically bland Hollywood fare. Yet its tongue is often firmly placed within its cheek. This free-spirited nature is embodied by Rebel Wilson, as Fat Amy - a self-chosen nickname "so twig bitches like you don't do it behind my back". Her scene-stealing performance is reminiscent of Melissa McCarthy's hilarity in last year's 'Bridesmaids'.
Indeed, much of the humour is joyously evocative of 'Bridesmaids', with odes to the likes of 'Bring It On' and 'Sister Act II' - particularly as the competitive aspects develop during the film. The unexpected tone works magnificently, so much so that the Hollywood ending feels somewhat out of place.
Such a faltering is a rare mistake from Kay Cannon's screenplay and the debut feature direction from Jason Moore, whose Broadway expertise comes to the fore in the triumphant musical numbers. The arrangements are terrific - mashing up the likes of Jessie J's 'Price Tag' and Miley Cyrus' 'Party In The USA', and even successfully taking on songs of the stature of Blackstreet's 'No Diggity'.
The rousing original soundtrack drives the film, elevating the film's undercooked romantic plot between Beca and a Treble Maker (Skylar Astin). That romance might delight some members of the audience but for me, the innovative compositions and off-kilter humour dominated my enjoyment. 'Pitch Perfect' is glorious. Sing it loud, sing it proud.
'Pitch Perfect' is out now in UK cinemas, through Universal Pictures. Purchase the original soundtrack at amazon.co.uk.