The Bellas are back in the conclusion of a journey that began half a decade ago. Starting with the first Pitch Perfect movie in 2012, we were introduced to the world of acapella singing through the eyes of Becca Mitchell, played to perfection by the very likable Anna Kendrick, who shines here, in a movie that is as dim as the third installment in most Hollywood franchises nowadays.
Based on a screenplay by Kay Cannon and Michael White, and directed by Trish Sie, the movie dubbed as “The Farewell Tour” in all of its marketing builds upon the success of the second installment by attempting to take the franchise in bold and inventive directions that unfortunately never quite land. Anna Kendrick, as always, manages to elevate the clunky dialogue and screenplay and make it more palatable.
Here, the Bellas have all graduated from college and are working jobs in their various lives. They are, of course, pulled back in to the world of competitive singing when they decide to sing together for one last time. The movie does its best to introduce laughs and gags along the way, some of which work and others that don’t. It also attempts to up the ante on the more fantastic elements of the story in order to end the franchise on a bang.
However, a few plot points involving the aforementioned bold choices, feel contrived and forced, looking like obvious ploys to make the franchise feel bigger and more bombastic than it actually is. It is a given that every movie, in order to be fully enjoyed, requires its audience to suspend disbelief for a moment to be pulled fully into the world that’s being created. Unfortunately, when that world ends up feeling like an alternate reality where logic is substituted for silliness and extreme camp, even the most lenient of audiences will exhibit their displeasure at the display.
For all its flaws, the movie shines when it attempts to be self-effacing in its brand of humor by poking fun at its own tropes and story points that have been present since the beginning. Rebel Wilson here does what she has always done best; embodying what it really means to be the comic relief in a movie that relies on cheap jokes and stale one-liners.
There is something that should be said for the time and effort that Elizabeth Banks put into this franchise both as a producer on all three entries and as a director on the second one, which ironically turned out to the best installment. The franchise from its inception had all the makings of a female empowerment narrative woven through a fun tale of singing and dream-chasing. All those lofty goals seem to fall flat in this life less entry as each character is reduced to mostly clichés and one notes at the expense of real character development. If the first Pitch Perfect was a fun ride and the second one was a surprisingly heartwarming endeavor, the third feels like a soulless husk of what it could have been. “We finally got our big ending,” remarks one of the characters at the end. On that note, I have to agree. The ending was big; as was the movie. A big disappointment.