The Pitch Perfect movies have been kind of like a minor miracle. There was an energy and vibrancy to a comedy centered round a cappella singing groups on a college campus that combined vocal only pop musical numbers with a raunchy sense of humor, and amazingly lightning struck twice when Pitch Perfect 2 proved to be a hit. Now comes Pitch Perfect 3, a threequel that is being billed as the farewell tour for the Barden Bellas of the previous films. Thank god this is the end of the road. Where the first two films had energy and delivered laughs, Pitch Perfect 3 is the dismantling of the harmony between music and comedy that defined the first two films, devolving into something that more resembles a Police Academy movie than its predecessors.
Credit where it’s due, Pitch Perfect 3 establishes that it’s going to go in some rather absurd directions in its opening scene. The Barden Bellas led by Beca (Anna Kendrick) are performing Britney Spears’ “Toxic” aboard a yacht on the French coast. Suddenly, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) comes crashing down from above amidst a downpour of broken glass. Blasting a fire extinguisher and screaming “Freedom!” Amy and Beca jump over the edge of the ship as it explodes behind them before freezing the frame with the title emblazoned over their explosive leap. “Just what in the hell was that?” you might be asking yourself.
Cut to three weeks earlier. Beca is working as a record producer polishing turds for whatever flash in the pan she’s assigned. Frustrated, she quits her job. Her and Fat Amy join the rest of the Bellas – Chloe (Brittany Snow), Aubrey (Anna Camp), Stacie (Alexis Knapp), Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean), Flo (Chrissie Fit), Ashley (Shelly Regner), Jessica (Kelley Jakle), and Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) – for a reunion of their college a cappella group only to discover they weren’t invited to perform. Downtrodden at their lot in life, the girls devise a plan to tour with the USO entertaining the troops overseas. Quickly, they’re in Spain and followed by the a cappella enthusiasts John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks), who are now making a documentary film on the fall of the Bellas. This is where the flimsy screenplay credited to Kay Cannon and Mike White begins to buckle under the weight of its increasingly unfocused story.
The Bellas are in competition on this USO tour with a hip hop duo, a folksy country band, and an all-girl rock group called Evermoist led by Calamity (Ruby Rose) with the winner securing an opening spot for DJ Khaled. An executive for DJ Khaled’s record label, Theo (Guy Burnet), takes a liking to Beca, and we’re presented with this information through the looks he gives her. At various stages of the movie, Theo eyes Beca with looks that read “She’s pretty,” “She’s talented,” and “She’s pretty talented.” Meanwhile, Fat Amy’s long lost father (John Lithgow) has appeared, a sure fire sign of a franchise grasping at straws. From there, Pitch Perfect 3 escalates into a series of predictable gags and confounding moments of action scenes. As Fat Amy suddenly transforms into John Wick, you’re left to wonder just how the creators of this movie completely forget what made this series unique.
From a purely visual sense, Trish Sie brings a much stronger sense of construction to the film’s many musical numbers than her predecessor Elizabeth Banks did to Pitch Perfect 2. And yet, Pitch Perfect 2 is the far superior sequel because Banks was much more adept at handling the film’s comedic content, which greatly suffers here. Often it seems that Pitch Perfect 3 doesn’t know what to with its many characters, though there are couple of adequate jokes within the film that do work based on this premise. But it’s at once overstuffed and underdeveloped. There are a number of romances that are teased and then they’re mostly forgotten about until the end credits when it’s just a montage of these characters getting together. Even worse, though, Pitch Perfect 3 has aspects that seem to run counter to the series attitudes towards female empowerment, exemplified by a scene where the girls pick themselves up by dressing slutty and the overwhelming daddy issues that plague a couple of the Bellas.
Pitch Perfect 3 is a crushing disappointment because it wants to act as if it’s about closure and moving on with your life but it’s really just a haphazardly constructed, ill-conceived sequel that doesn’t take our characters to any new places aside from European locales and inane situations. I guess Pitch Perfect 3 is about moving on because it seems as if Kay Cannon moved on from the franchise before finishing the script to the third installment. Every aspect of the film feels rushed and undercooked. Everything that made Pitch Perfect and its first sequel sing a special song and unique feels dumbed down and diluted. Pitch Perfect 3 is billed as a farewell tour, but this is one of those cases where you just wish the band broke up before embarking an embarrassing, underwhelming farewell tour.
Pitch Perfect 3
Abandoning everything that made the series special, Pitch Perfect 3 more closely resembles an embarrassing Police Academy sequel than the musical-comedy hybrid that endeared audiences two times before.