PITCH PERFECT 3
Director: Trish Sie
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Kiggins, Matt Lanter, John Lithgow
I don’t think anyone seeing Pitch Perfect back in 2012 would expect it to end up as a part of a trilogy. I caught bits of it again last night on NBC, and boy was there a ton of charm and glee there. Three movies in and it’s hard to find that same zest now that we’ve gotten to know the formula. The Barden Bellas have graduated college and are now living separate lives, some more successful than others. The current Bellas invite the former members back for a reunion show at an aquarium. Don’t go to this one looking for realism. I don’t remember doing any aquarium performances back in my show choir days. It’s not quite the reunion the original Bellas were expecting, but it reminds them of the joy and passion they had for performing together. Aubrey (Camp) suggests they take some time off from their jobs and join the USO as part of a competition to open for DJ Khaled. Her dad is serving overseas and this could mean a reunion with him as well. Beca (Kendrick) is quick to agree as she recently quit her job as a music producer and doesn’t have any other offers holding her back. It’s the perfect opportunity to reunite the group along with current Bella Emily (Steinfeld) to perform again. The once confident Bellas realize they may be out of their element when they notice they’re the only a capella group competing. The rest of the bands all play their own instruments and have their own distinct look and sound.
The Pitch Perfect movies are guilty pleasure through and through. I’ll listen to the soundtracks here and there, but once these women were reunited, I really how much I enjoy their goofy chemistry together as a cast. Pitch Perfect 3 is written by original scribe Kay Cannon and Mike White (School of Rock). I wouldn’t go into this one looking for a unique plot or any sort of character development. I think Cannon and White knew what audiences come for is the music and humor. The banter between the Bellas is alive and present with Rebel Wilson getting many of the big laughs again as Fat Amy. She’ll throw any sass comeback she can think of at Beca or Emily. It’s also worth noting that Brittany Snow gets her own funny side story as she flirts with army recruit Chicago (Lanter).
The men of the original movie (Skyler Astin, Ben Platt, and Adam Devine) do not return for this one. It shows that the girls don’t always have to have boyfriends, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to go on the USO tour. What does make sense for pure comedic purposes is the return of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. They are an absolute riot as Gail and John, the two competition announcers now turned documentarians. They’re following the Bellas around to capture all the grit and glamor of being a Bella. They’re the Statler and Waldorf of the movie oftentimes throwing jabs at the Bellas.
The USO setting provides a basic structure to the story and allows for pure randomness to happen like Fat Amy learning her father (an over-the-top John Lithgow) is in the area and wants to reconnect. Let’s just say they have a fractured past. You can feel it lose steam two thirds of the way through. I think the writers know that and compensate by throwing in a random action sequence for the girls. It feels inspired by Melissa McCarthy’s Spy, and they get to sing Britney Spears’ “Toxic” on top of it all. The other musical selections throughout include twists on “Cheap Thrills”, “Sit Still Look Pretty” and their infamous Riff Off against the other bands when they arrive on base. Unlike the other two movies, this doesn’t have a stand out new song like “Cups” or “Flashlight”. Maybe it doesn’t need it, but I missed the empowering anthem for the Bellas.
Pitch Perfect 3 acts as an easy send off movie as it’s more just about seeing the band back together for one last time. There are enough laughs, goofy moments, and pure aca-fun that comes with these characters. You’ll still want to sing along and tap your feet to their big numbers, and it demonstrates positive themes of sisterhood and family for young girls and boys out there looking to one day join a choir or a capella group.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Not as great as the others, but if you’re a fan you’ll still sing along to this one.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS