The Bellas close the show with a funny-at-times, but strange instalment of the all-conquering musical franchise. (Warning: this article contains some spoilers).
A third and final instalment of a trilogy is hard to get right – just ask the guys from The Matrix, or more aptly, those from The Hangover, whose final film led it to weird and ill-advised places in the search for humour. This is the route that the Pitch Perfect franchise has fallen down.
For 30-40 minutes, you are treated to the norm. Classic ‘Fat Amy’ (Rebel Wilson) one-liners, very well crafted musical scenes, including arguably the best 'riff-off' in any of the films at an army base, and the forever funny duo of Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins), this time following the Bellas as they prepare to make a 'what happened next?' type of documentary.
All of this sails along almost as smoothly as the first two, as the Bellas, led with usual solid acting performances by Becca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snoe) embark on one last tour, this time for the troops, as they move around from location to location entertaining all in the hope that DJ Khaled, scripted or not it's still unclear, will pick them ahead of the other bands and give them one last chance to perform on his tour. During this period there are some fun sequences, from the musical side, through to rebel Wilson's countless jokes at the expense of fellow band Ever-moist (the jokes really write themselves there).
However, going into the late second and third acts in my eyes, the film tarnishes the very reason why the franchise has been so successful.
Fat Amy's dad, played as an Australian caricature by John Lithgow, tracks the Bellas down in the hope of getting his daughter to sign over the money left to her by her mother. This ridiculous sequence begins with the group being kidnapped and held hostage on a boat and ends once Rebel Wilson is done submitting her audition tape for a female reboot of Taken, after taking out many security guards, brought back memories of the recent remake of Baywatch, which I thought I’d happily forgotten. Why the writers thought they needed to change the formula so dramatically for this supposed final film truly baffles me. The whole concept of the films huge success has not only been around it's tight, musical element but it's relate-able nature, and this ultimately disconnects the audience as shockingly as pulling a plug out of a socket without turning it off.
The obvious easy option, of using the 'end' of the Bellas journey as they all go their separate ways as a driving point for the film and it's plot would've no doubt given fans a worthy send-off, and one that even if not executed 100% right, would still have delivered an emotional punch for audiences to take away. Instead, you can't help feel as if you've been cheated out of a proper end. Maybe they'll release a Pitch Perfect 2 ½ box set in which this final episode cuts off around 45 minutes in, or even a better, a version in which legendary commentators Gail and John narrate the films conclusion (I can hear their disdain already).
Undoubtedly, as you can probably tell, this film is the weakest of the three, and that's no crime - it was largely expected. But what is a crime is not giving the franchise the send-off it deserved, but who knows? If recent history is anything to go by, it may not be the last.
Overall you won't take a lot from this film, but what I can promise you is you'll never eat a Starburst the same way again....