Pitch Perfect 3 Review

pitch perfect 3
Post-college life is no picnic for the former Barden Bellas acapella group, so they leap at the chance to reunite for a USO tour of Europe. But up against bands with actual instruments, how will they cope?

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on
Release Date:

20 Dec 2017

Original Title:

Pitch Perfect 3

It’s worth remembering how charming and fresh Pitch Perfect felt in 2012. It gave Anna Kendrick a role that played to her sceptical strengths, offered a female-led ensemble that didn’t have a weak link and showcased Kay Cannon’s sharp-witted script. The follow-up was still funny, but this third outing sadly follows a law of diminishing returns.

Perhaps the problems are baked in to the premise. Having all graduated from college, a reason for the Bellas to get together takes a little more set-up. But never fear: Anna Camp’s Aubrey has a dad in the military who can get them all on a USO tour, and the promise that one of the groups involved will perhaps get to open for DJ Khaled (playing himself and playing grand piano) on a huge tour afterwards is the prize dangled to replace any a cappella contest and drive the plot.

You’ll have the suspicion that director Trish Sie and her team ran into trouble somewhere.

The only problem is, the contest is almost completely irrelevant to anything else happening. Similarly, Ruby Rose’s Calamity and her rock band, Evermoist (ew), are quickly established as the villains of the piece but provoke no reaction from the Bellas and barely affect the plot. Meanwhile, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) finds herself back in touch with her long-lost dad (John Lithgow) and must decide whether she can trust the former drug dealer in another storyline straight out of nowhere. Amy’s at her strongest when in the corner puncturing the pomposity of the leads, so it feels an odd choice to give the character a dramatic family background.

Kendrick does the best she can to keep it together. Beca is now established as a record producer, and is half-relieved, half-mortified when she’s forced to reunite with the girls for one last go-around. Anna Camp and Brittany Snow continue to do a lot with relatively few lines, walking the fine line between popular cool girl and complete weirdo, and Snow even gets a love interest. But others in the cast are less well-served, and while once the weird asides were reserved for Fat Amy and Hana Mae Lee’s Lilly, now it feels like everyone is getting in on the act, to far lesser effect.

Many of the jokes are still fun, even if they verge on a little too knowing — “That sure was a lot of exposition,” offers Chrissie Fit’s Flo at one point — and the warmth between the stars helps. But even before the end credits show glimpses of a whole lot of scenes that never appear in the finished cut, you’ll have the suspicion that director Trish Sie (Step Up All In) and her team ran into trouble somewhere.

The film only truly comes alive in its performance scenes, which is as it should be, and a succession of pop hits guarantee toe-taps in the cinema. Music, at least, never lets these girls down, even if the rest of their lives — and their movie — fails to live up to what’s on stage.

A tired retread of better jokes in the first two movies, this drags along to an admittedly heartwarming conclusion. But it’s a good thing this caps the trilogy because it’s coasting on fumes.
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