UK Release Date: 20th December 2017
Runtime: 93 minutes
Director: Trish Sie
Writer: Kay Cannon, Mike White
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Ruby Rose, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee
Synopsis: The Bellas, who have been apart for years, join forces again to sing together one last time before they go their separate ways.
In 2012, Pitch Perfect felt like a breath of fresh air. It was a snarky, subversive antidote to the saccharine sweetness of the television show Glee, which had nonetheless brought the world of competitive acapella singing into the mainstream. Five years later, Glee is long gone and yet Pitch Perfect remains, limping into cinemas with a threequel no one really wanted after 2015’s disappointing Pitch Perfect 2. To say this is the nadir of it all would be a gift to a truly dismal and dispiriting film that manages to hit all of the wrong notes, in completely the wrong order.
Everything that made the first Pitch Perfect film a success is absent here. This is a ludicrous film that simply throws in musical number after musical number in the hope they can paper over the cracks in a contrived and overblown narrative that falls foul of just about every sequel cliché in the book.
We meet the Bellas at their lowest ebb, spread around a series of dead-end careers. Beca (Anna Kendrick) has been sacked from her job producing a grotesque young hip-hop star and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is doing a terrible Amy Winehouse tribute act on the streets. After a depressing encounter with Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) and her new Bellas, Aubrey (Anna Camp) scores the girls a spot on a tour to entertain the troops, which presents a possible opportunity to perform with top producer DJ Khaled.
This central plot is a simple enough contrivance to allow the now disparate Bellas to sing as a unit again. Less satisfying is the fact the basic musical journey is constantly interrupted by a bizarre side plot involving John Lithgow as Fat Amy’s criminal father, doing an Aussie accent so bad you find yourself praying for a kangaroo to knock him out. Seafaring action sequences, kidnap plots and explosions are not a good fit for a movie that, at its core, is about the bond between a group of young women.
There isn’t a single character who is well-served by Pitch Perfect 3, with Beca getting a strange plot involving one of DJ Khaled’s assistants, Aubrey handed a standard ‘daddy issues’ thread and Brittany Snow‘s Chloe reduced to simply making googly eyes at Matt Lanter‘s soldier for the entire running time. Even the reliable double act of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are saddled with running around waving video cameras while spouting some decidedly second-rate takes on their trademark acidic putdowns.
Every aspect of the film is tired and weary. New director Trish Sie directs the musical numbers with bland flatness and even the song choices lack the variety of styles that made the first film’s soundtrack so memorable. Much of the film is structured around a handful of set pieces, strung together with stabs at self-referential humour that feel desperate and unearned rather than sharp and incisive.
As a big fan of the Pitch Perfect franchise, this film was a profoundly sad experience. It’s like returning home after a term at university to find that the family dog is no longer a bouncy, happy puppy but is now a decrepit, lethargic hound with crippling arthritis. The saying might say there’s life in the old dog yet, but this one needs to be taken away and put out of its aca-misery as soon as aca-possible.
Pop or Poop?
Comedy musicals don’t come much less enjoyable than Pitch Perfect 3, which couldn’t be further from the consistent charm and spirit of its 2012 predecessor. Rebel Wilson gets a disastrous subplot and, were it not for the fact the cast seem to love being around each other, there would be nothing about this to suggest fun of any kind.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.