REVIEW / MUSICAL COMEDY
PITCH PERFECT 3 (PG13)
94 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ 2 stars
The story: Following college graduation and a World Championship victory, the senior Bellas have found mediocre, soul-crushing jobs. It looks like their a cappella days are behind them. But when there is a chance to tour Europe as part of a variety show entertaining American troops, they leap at it.
Here is how to tell if a television show or movie series is bowing out. There will be one or more of these: celebrity cameos, expensive locations, group hugs, doubling down on catchphrases and the softening of previously edgy characters.
All of these appear in the finale. The celebrity is DJ Khaled, rapper and producer, and there are no scenes in which Amy (Rebel Wilson) suffers a wardrobe malfunction (unlike in 2015’s second movie, when her Muffgate incident scandalised the nation).
The popularity of the series was never based on plot. With its light raunch, rapid-fire dialogue and theme of sisterhood, the first movie (2012) showed that women could be funny not by showing that they could out-bro men, but on their own terms.
It married the pop culture-heavy wordplay of television’s Gossip Girl (2007 to 2012) with the light musical fantasy of the High School Musical franchise, but with a friskiness all its own.
In saying goodbye to its fans, the third and last movie has gone sappy, turning its driven women into star-struck fangirls, eager for the approval of DJ Khaled (playing himself), whom they consider a star-maker. Previously, it was the the pursuit of a goal that only a cappella geeks wanted that gave the movies their spark of frivolous fun.
Without a strong villain, the Bellas flop around as characters. They trade occasional weak punches with a rock band led by Calamity (Ruby Rose), but the insult comedy of the last two films feels absent, unless one counts the random jabs from a cappella announcers Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins), who are making a documentary about the Bellas.
A suitable title for the documentary: Leaving On A Shaky Note.