Usually when I see that a good comedy is getting a sequel, I cringe. The majority of the time the next movie, or in this case two movies, feels like leftover jokes that had no room in the first movie. But I didn’t get this vibe from Pitch Perfect 3; what I got was a plot unlike the first two movies, and laugh-out-loud comedy that interacts with its own self-awareness. The team behind Pitch Perfect 3 knew this was their final chapter and that the idea has been squeezed dry, and they wanted to go out with a bang. Literally.
The opening is ridiculous; the Bellas are performing an acapella rendition of Britney Spears’ Toxic on a luxury yacht when suddenly Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) crashes through the skylight, hoses down the small audience with fire extinguishers, and they all jump overboard as the boat explodes. I remember sitting there gobsmacked before thinking, “What the Hell?”
Flash back to three weeks ago. The Bellas have left college and are struggling to get their grips on the outside world. Becca (Anna Kendrick) has left her job as a music producer after realising her contributions aren’t being taken seriously, Chloe (Brittany Snow) is working as a Vet’s assistant (still wearing her Barden Bellas outfit under her scrubs), while the rest of the girls scrape by on awful jobs. Unsurprisingly, the girls jump at the chance to be reunited and sing together, this time at the USO show for the American troops. And what would a Pitch Perfect movie be without a competition? The Barden Bellas are competing with three other bands – an all-male country rock group, an R’n’B DJ pair, and rock-glam girl-group Evermoist (ew) – to be the opening act for DJ Khaled’s tour! The movie jumps at the chance to satirise the music industry, which includes DJ Khaled’s ‘juiceologist’ and his own personal beehive, because why not?
As the Barden Bellas travel around Europe performing for the troops, they are followed by acapella competition hosts John and Gail (John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks). I was so glad to see them as everything that comes out of their mouths is pure gold. The pair follow the Bellas around with a camera with the intention of producing a documentary about them, and they never fail to mock them along the way. It’s a consistent part of the franchise that I was happy they kept.
The plot takes a bizarre turn when we discover that Fat Amy has a difficult relationship with her father. John Lithgow, using a terrible Australian accent, plays Fat Amy’s emotionally manipulative criminal father who spends the entire film trying to access an off-shore account in Fat Amy’s name worth millions of dollars. When Lithgow takes the Bellas hostage to try and make Fat Amy give up the account, she mounts a full-scale rescue. Fat Amy’s weight has been a source of comedy throughout the franchise and is usually at her expense (although to be fair a lot of the jokes come from Fat Amy herself), but this scene uses her weight to her advantage and it makes for hilarious physical comedy.
Admittedly the plot isn’t great but at this point audiences are coming for the characters, not the storyline. Despite being slammed by other reviewers, Pitch Perfect 3 is a wonderful conclusion to the Barden Bellas’ journey. Alongside the comedy, we get a heartfelt story of teamwork and female solidarity, with sisterhood that feels genuine and unforced. A beautiful swan song for the franchise.
Director: Trish Sie. Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow. Running time: 93m.