Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Trish Sie
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, John Lithgow, DJ Khaled, Hana Mae Lee, Ruby Rose, Alexis Knapp, Chrissie Fit, Ester Dean, Shelley Regner, Kelley Jakle, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnet, Alexis Knapp, Jessica Chaffin, Michael Rose, Andy Allo, Venzelia Joy, Moises Arias, Hannah Fairlight, Troy Ian Hall, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks.
The Pitch Perfect series has followed the changing fortunes of a cappella group the Barden Bellas, but now they give us an unnecessary encore performance that no-one really needed or asked for. And this farewell performance hits something of a bum note.
Rather than the ensemble of the previous films, this third outing concentrates mainly on the characters of Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson, doing her familiar comic shtick) and Beca (the perennially upbeat and perky Anna Kendrick). The rest of the group (including Brittany Snow and Hailee Steinfeld) are afforded precious little screen time.
When Pitch Perfect 3 opens, the Bellas have left college and are trying to make it in the real word, with little success. So, it is not surprising that they leap at the opportunity to reform and embark on a USO tour of military bases in the Mediterranean. The catch is that the tour is something of a competition, with the winning group being offered an exclusive recording contract with legendary producer and DJ Khaled (playing himself). The Bellas find themselves competing against an all-girl rock band named Evermoist (Ruby Rose plays their lead singer), a country band and a pair of rapping techno DJs. Cue plenty of covers of top 40 hits and anthems, with the soundtrack again one of the series highlights.
The main subplot though centres around the surprise appearance of Fat Amy’s estranged father Fergus (played by John Lithgow with a dodgy Australian accent). He claims that he wants to get to know his daughter better and make up for the lost years. In fact, he is something of a conman who just wants to get his hands on her multi-million-dollar inheritance which is in a secure bank in the Cayman Islands. In desperation he kidnaps the Bellas and holds them hostage on his luxury yacht, which would not be out of place as the lair for a Bond villain. Beca and Fat Amy set out to rescue them. Cue some fisticuffs and pyrotechnics. One can’t help that this subplot is brought on by Wilson’s desire to have a career as an action heroine, and this offers her an opportunity to strut her stuff.
One of the highlights of the Pitch Perfect movies has been the acerbic repartee of the commentary team of the misogynistic John Smith (played with arch perfection by John Michael Higgins) and Gail Abernathy-McKadden-Feinberger (Elizabeth Banks, who went on to direct Pitch Perfect 2), and they return here, although this time around the pair are shooting a documentary on the rise and fall of the Bellas, all the while hoping that they will fall flat on their faces. They again provide some of the film’s funniest moments.
Regular writer Kay Cannon returns, with contributions from co-writer Mike White (School Of Rock, etc), and they take the material in a slightly different direction. The pair reprise a lot of the jokes and routines from the first two films but here they feel perfunctory. There are a couple of subplots too many, and not all the strands satisfactorily mesh.
Choreographer and music video director Trish Sie (Step Up 5) steps into the director’s chair, and her handling of the material is a little uneven. While the first half of the film follows the usual formula with lots of sweet musical numbers and re-establishing the group dynamics, the second half of the film comes across like something out of a B-grade spy movie or action comedy, and is tonally inconsistent with what has preceded it.
Wilson’s comic timing is still good, and she obviously has fun ad libbing her cutting one-liners. Lithgow hams it up here, but even his malicious, conniving villain can’t save this disappointing film.
Franchise fatigue sets in with most sequels, as it does here, and this third instalment of the Pitch Perfect series is far from perfect, lacking the charm and freshness of the first film.