“Pitch Perfect 3” Movie Review


     Even the best of franchises become tired and repetitive as they continually try to recreate the magic they once achieved, but find it’s just simply not there anymore.  The latest example is “Pitch Perfect 3”, an attempted threequel to the popular Acapella group series led by Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, which clearly indicates the end should have resided with 2015’s “Pitch Perfect 2”, rather than forcing something needless into the already crowded holiday season.  Trish Sie takes over the directing chores for the project, subbing in for Elizabeth Banks, who reprises her role as Gail, but was apparently absent where they needed her most.  What made the first two films in the series so enjoyable was the appeal of the cast and the competitive aspect of their craft.  Screenwriters Kay Cannon and Mike White, take things in a mostly different direction, one that may surprise, but not in a good way since several of the Bellas, including Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Aubrey (Anna Camp), Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), and the rest of the gang, are forced into situations we’d rather not see them in.

     One of the highlights of the first two films, from a comedic standpoint, was the pairing of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as Gail and John, a journalistic duo who follow the Bellas to Acapella competitions doing a sort of play by play as if there a people who would actually tune in to listen.  And who knows? Maybe there are people who would, but the laughs these two create with their commentary is like an Acapella version of Mystery Science Theater and it’s good to see them back again.  Problem is, the filmmakers take the Bellas out of their element for most of the picture, leaving Gail and John out as well for large stretches.  

     Instead, we get a story that begins with our recently out of college singers scraping by with odd jobs and not what you would think they once envisioned themselves doing.  The odd part about this cast as things stand is they are still playing these characters who are likely in their mid twenties, but Anna Kendrick (32), Anna Camp (35), and Rebel Wilson (37) are all well past that age, leaving us to wonder why this charade needed to continue in the first place.  Only Hailee Steinfeld, who is 21, sits at the right age to play her character.  Certainly all of these ladies are capable of playing characters their own age, or has Hollywood still not figured out that audiences crave stories about well established strong female characters?

     The idea comes up amongst the group to participate in a European USO tour that would have them performing for the troops at various military bases along with other invited entertainers.  The obligatory “Pitch Perfect” scene in which our Bellas meet their supposed competition and have a sort of singing battle comes early when they arrive and are greeted by their military escorts.  Again, they are forced to defend their style of singing with no instruments when the other entertainers are bands who utilize instruments and sing original songs.  This, of course, forces the Bellas to burst into song in a way only they can, while the other competitors mean mug them as if they are standing on stage at a UFC weigh in in front of their opponent .  I never understand why these scenes are even necessary, other than to create a reason for the musical aspect of the story to flourish, but to have those watching them act the way they do? Why?  It's rather comical, especially given the fact the band in question, comprised of all females as well, calls themselves Ever Moist.

     Nevertheless, everything seems to be going smooth, until John Lithgow shows up as Fat Amy’s long lost father and inserts an oddball kidnapping plot that ultimately sees his aforementioned daughter transforming into Liam Neeson from “Taken” and conducting a rescue op.  One that includes her infiltration of his high end yacht and the taking out of his henchmen with the kind of marital arts skill “Jason Bourne" would be proud of.  And most of this isn’t exactly played for laughs, though Wilson, who voluntarily allows herself to be the butt of numerous obesity jokes, may induce a snicker or two just because the sight of her fighting in a serious manner is so wildly outrageous.  There are explosions, daring escapes, and helicopters flying above.  None of which you would expect in a film like this, resulting in a complete tonal disaster.

     The third act tries to correct things by putting the Bellas back in their realm, but the damage had already been done.  If the filmmakers couldn’t come up with something else to occupy the film’s 94 minute running time, then the best course of action would’ve been to make a different film involving these talented women and spare us from being baited into seeing another sequel that proves these Bellas were done and had moved on with their lives several years ago.  GRADE: D