When the plot of a sequel is that the characters are being sent off on a holiday, it’s usually a good time to start to worry. It’s typically the point in a franchise when the makers have run out of ideas and so they put the characters in a new environment in the hope that people won’t notice that they couldn’t really decide what the movie should be about.
That’s pretty much true of Pitch Perfect 3, where the former Barden Bellas get the opportunity to participate in a USO military tour, performing with other bands in different countries. To add a little random competition to the mix, the best of those bands will be chosen by DJ Khaled to open for him on his tour. That’s the cue for the Bellas to go into crisis of confidence of mode as they realise that being the best at acapella-ing doesn’t necessarily mean they can go toe-to-toe with an all-female pop-rock group, a country artist and a couple of rappers.
In case people realise that’s not really much of a story, the movie also chucks in a couple of romantic subplots (the guys from the previous two films have been conveniently removed and ignored) and Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy turns into an action hero after her criminal father (John Lithgow) emerges from the shadows and decides a bit of kidnapping is in order.
When it was released at cinemas reviewers generally eviscerated the movie, saying that the franchise had jumped the shark and descended into tedium. However, they ignored the fact that the movie pretty much does what Pitch Perfect has always done – present a very standard plot which offers very few surprises, but then peps it up massively with some good tunes, lots of energy, some girl-power confidence building and plenty of genuinely funny moments. Admittedly Pitch Perfect 3 doesn’t offer as much of that as the first two movies, and its lack of ideas does mean that it can’t paint over the cracks quite as well as the earlier movies did, but it’s still a lot of fun.
It doesn’t add up to much – but then neither did the other two beyond being a lot of fun. By the end, when the movie tries to assure us that this is the end of the story of these particular Bellas, you’re likely to be feeling that perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. It’s been a fun ride, but this third outing does suggest a franchise that at the very least needs a refresh. That’s particularly true with Anna Kendrick’s ???, with the actress trying to breathe life into her characters’ journey while seeming very aware that it’s not really all that interesting and nobody cares all that much whether she gets a solo music career.
Pitch Perfect 3 is enjoyable fluff, and it certainly has a few great musical moments. The tunes may not reach the heights of some of the mixes from the first two films, but they’re still nicely put together set-piece fusions of a raft of popular songs given a fresh sound and brought together in unexpected ways. The film attempts to up the ante with the addition of a bit of rock, country and rap – and, shockingly for the Bella, instrument – but ultimately it’s the ladies of acapella that once again steal the show.
The movie looks and sounds good on Blu-ray, and there are a few decent special features, including some additional and extended musical sequences. The film itself may not be as good as the earlier Pitch Perfect movies, but it’s still plenty of fun. It should also be remembered that both of the earlier films benefited massively from surpassing the low expectations most people had for them. With this one those expectations were raised, and so the fact it’s okay rather than great means its perhaps come in for more criticism than it deserves.
Overall Verdict: It may not be as strong as the earlier Pitch Perfect films – a lot more thought about the plot would have helped – but it’s still an entertaining musical adventure with some decent laughs.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
New Musical Performances
Extended Musical Performances
Feature Commentary With Director Trish Sie and Producer Paul Brooks
‘A Cappella Action’ Featurette
‘The Women of Pitch Perfect 3’ Featurette
‘Hollywood of the South’ Featurette
‘Competition Crescendo’ Featurette
‘Don’t Mess with Rebel’ Featurette
‘The Headliner: DJ Khaled’ Featurette
‘The Final Note: John and Gail’ Featurette
‘Just Because He’s a Bad Guy’ Featurette
“Freedom! ’90 x Cups” Official Music Video