Released in 2012, the first Pitch Perfect came out of nowhere to unexpected success, and was a breath of fresh air, mixing a capella, laughs, charm and a warm heart. There was one or two moments of farcical humour involving projectile vomiting, but for the most part the movie felt grounded, and was one of the best musical comedies to come from Hollywood in a long time.
The second movie, which saw producer and co-star Elizabeth Banks calling the directorial shots, upped the more broader comedic aspects more considerably, while also giving a bigger role for Rebel Wilson. It didn’t feel as grounded, but it was all good fun and a worthy sequel.
Now, Pitch Perfect 3 arrives and with it an even more broader brand of comedy. The more grounded charms of the first movie (projectile vomiting excepted, of course) have now gone in place of an even bigger role for Wilson, a bigger storyline involving her father, and an action set piece that feels like it’s walked in from the Melissa McCarthy movie Spy.
It is the weakest movie of the series, without a doubt…but with a good crowd and the right frame of mind, one cannot help but laugh throughout much of its running time, although it’s perhaps wise to not expect the first movie again. There’s still charm and at least one moment that will make you giddy inside, especially if, like this reviewer, you’re easily captivated by the charms of Anna Kendrick, but subtlety has gone out a very high window…or at least been blown to smithereens on a fancy yacht.
Now graduated from college, the Bellas now find themselves lost and struggling without their a capella responsibilities, and in the hope of discovering themselves again, decide to participate in an overseas USO tour.
We get the obligatory competition, this time the victors being selected to open for DJ Khaled (playing himself), comically vindictive competitors, this time not in the shape of other a capella groups (no Treblemakers in this one) but other bands who (gasp) use instruments, the biggest competition being the female girl rock bad Evermoist (yep, and the film makes the most of that joke).
Also, we get another “Cups” type moment where Beca showcases her musical talents. It’s another charming moment that really sweeps you along and is without a doubt the most lovable, charming moment of the movie, even if does feature blatant promotion for Beats headphones.
When the movie plays on the things that makes a Pitch Perfect movie so enjoyable, like the musical numbers and the character interactions between The Bellas, the film fires on all cylinders, but when it decides that it wants to be an action comedy in which Fat Amy’s dad (John Lithgow doing a unique Australian accent) kidnaps the Bellas, facilitating the longest version of Toxic ever, one starts to think that they’ve accidentally started watching some unrelated Rebel Wilson movie, complete with comedic fight scenes and over the top explosions.
Talk about turning into a different movie, it threatens to feel like a different franchise.
On the plus side, the musical performances are brilliant, the soundtrack being another must have, while every member of The Bellas get their moments to shine, while Anna Camp makes more than just a cameo appearance, unlike the second movie, while the film nicely hints that life after being amazing at college is not necessarily the greatest, all the while Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins pop up throughout with their wonderfully un-PC commentary on the film’s plot.
There are also one or two moments in which the movie looks as if it’s going to subvert clear expectations and ends up not doing so. With Skylar Astin and Adam DeVine not returning, our characters are without love interests. It looks as if the movie is going to function without trying to shoehorn romances for our heroines, an admirable notion, but instead the film throws in a new love interest for Bella in the shape of Theo (Guy Burnet), while Chloe (Brittany Snow) makes eyes for USO soldier Chicago (Matt Lanter), all the while the movie somewhat taunts Beca/Chloe shippers with an accidental boob grab.
It’s ironic that this is the third movie in the series, because in all honesty this is probably the third best in the series, and while critics will no doubt be highly critical and scathing, if you’re a fan of the series so far, then the movie will be critic proof. If one doesn’t expect the first movie and goes along with it expecting the type of movie that one expects to get from the third installment of a Hollywood comedy movie franchise then the movie more than delivers, and it’s damn well better than something like The Hangover Part III.
Most likely, and for the right reasons, this will be the last instalment, or at least it feels that way since its final moments feel like a bow on top of the series. The final performance of the movie is a lovely reminder of why it is these movies work so well and why they’re so lovable, even if the movie they’re appearing in is flawed.
It isn’t perfect, and it’s not the best in the series, but it’s great fun, inoffensive and, like all Pitch Perfect movies, carries you along with a bundle of charm.