Pitch Perfect 3

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Pitch Perfect 3  (2017)    Universal/Musical-Comedy    RT: 93 minutes    Rated PG-13 (crude and sexual content, language, some action)    Director: Trish Sie    Screenplay: Kay Cannon and Mike White    Music: Christopher Lennertz    Cinematography: Matthew Clark    Release date: December 22, 2017 (US)    Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Alexis Knapp, Kelley Jakle, Shelley Regner, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnet, DJ Khaled, Ruby Rose, Andy Allo, Venzella Joy Williams, Hannah Fairlight.

 

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 Pitch Perfect 3 is the third and final film in the series of musical comedies centered on an all-girls a cappella group, the Bellas. I say aca-lujah! I didn’t really mind the first two films; they were entertaining enough albeit predictable and formulaic. The musical numbers and mash-ups had a lot of energy. Energy is the very thing that Pitch Perfect 3 lacks. Even though they try to do something a bit different, the song remains pretty much the same with the Bellas facing yet another rival musical group who looks down on them.

 In this off-key entry, the main characters (expect for Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily) are out of college and trying to make it in the real world with little success. But before I get to that, I should tell you about the opening sequence. The Bellas are performing their rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” aboard a yacht. Suddenly, Fat Amy (Wilson) literally drops in wielding a fire extinguisher and the girls all jump into water as the boat explodes behind them. What the bloody hell? Is this Pitch Perfect or Jason Bourne? It sure left me scratching my head.

PitchPerfect3 The movie then flashes back to three weeks prior where a frustrated Becca (Kendrick) quits her job as a music producer. It’s okay though, the other girls really aren’t doing much better. Chloe (Snow) wants to get into veterinary school. Lilly (Lee) sews in a factory. Fat Amy is still Fat Amy. Sometimes she sings on the street in the guise of “Fat Amy Winehouse” but it’s anybody’s guess how she gets by. They’re invited to what they think is a Bellas reunion but it turns out just to be an invite to watch Emily and her Bellas perform.

 It’s former group leader Aubrey (Camp) who comes up with the idea of joining a USO tour. Since her father (absent pretty much all her life) is a military big-wig, she has no problem getting them in the show which also features three other acts including an all-female rock band called Evermoist. It turns out they’re all competing to open for DJ Khaled for the remainder of his tour. Of course, the initial meeting of the groups turns into a huge riff-off. This time, it feels forced.

 Instead of focusing on a rivalry between the Bellas and Evermoist, Pitch Perfect 3 turns into something else and I’m not sure how to react to it. I’m going to go ahead and issue a PLOT SPOILER ALERT even though I don’t think anybody’s likely to care if I reveal any major plot points. Fat Amy’s long-lost criminal father (Lithgow, Daddy’s Home 2) shows up and says he wants to reconnect with her. Of course, he has ulterior motives. When she calls him on it, he kidnaps her friends; hence, the opening scene with Fat Amy in action heroine mode. This is easily the dumbest plot development I’ve seen all year. The band rivalry takes a back seat to it and is resolved in the usual way, with a performance that brings everybody to their feet.

 I get the impression that the studio ordered Pitch Perfect 3 cut down which would explain its scant 93-minute running time. The movie has a half-done feel especially in regards to Aubrey’s relationship with her dad. Scenes that were featured in the trailer have been relegated to the outtake reel in the closing credits. The writers have cut down the story to its bare bones. Things like Becca and Fat Amy breaking up with their boyfriends from the last movie are explained with a line or two of dialogue. The tour takes our girls to some nice European locations- Spain, Italy and France- but the movie doesn’t even take advantage of this.

 Pitch Perfect 3 is clumsily stitched together. The musical numbers are uninspired. There’s next to no character development other than Becca’s continuing journey to adulthood. Kendrick is okay in the lead but it’s clear she’s over the whole Pitch Perfect thing. Ordinarily, I like Rebel Wilson but Fat Amy is kind of annoying in this third movie. The wonderfully talented Steinfeld isn’t given anything to do. Lithgow, sporting a silly Aussie accent, hams it up too much. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins reprise their roles from the other two movies; this time they’re filming a documentary about how far the Bellas have fallen since graduating college. They’re very annoying and not in a funny way.

 While I wouldn’t say director Trish Sie (Step Up All In) made a complete mess of Pitch Perfect 3, she has taken the series to its nadir. This movie is one wrong note after another. Its failure as a sequel AND a movie is what makes it interesting. I have a prediction. I think that in 5-10 years time, people will look at Pitch Perfect 3 the same way as Grease 2. It’s a bad movie but there’s something about it that makes it watchable. It’s the kind of movie I would have watched countless times on cable as a teen. Cable is the best place to watch this movie; it’s definitely not worth the ticket price. 

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