Pitch Perfect 3
While each round with the Barden Bellas has been slightly less fun than the one before, the entertainment quotient remains high in Pitch Perfect 3, which finds the a capella titans struggling post-graduation.
Beca (Anna Kendrick) is no longer having fun at her record label job, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is having little success with her Amy Winehouse tribute show and the rest of the singers likewise miss the camaraderie and fun that came with performing.
To keep the dream alive, Aubrey (Anna Camp) gets her absentee military father to put the Bellas on a USO tour of Europe, the outlier on the same bill as all-female rock band Evermoist, country act Saddle Up and hip-hop duo Young Sparrow and DJ Dragon Nutz.
The discovery that DJ Khaled will pick one of the groups to open for him at the tour’s last show gives Pitch Perfect 3 more of a reason for existing than merely providing these beloved characters a chance to find themselves or grow up or…something.
It’s a decent enough premise cooked up by formerly solo series scribe Kay Cannon, here enlisting 2017 multitasker Mike White (Brad’s Status; Beatriz at Dinner; The Emoji Movie) for help to wrap-up the trilogy, and allows the Bellas plenty of opportunities to showcase their individual silly traits and enjoyable instrument-free songs.
Directed by Trish Sie (Step Up All In), each musical sequence is enacted with a respectable level of professionalism, cutting nicely between different Bellas and the audience without any hiccups.
An amusing riff-off with the other OSU ensembles likewise elicits smiles and laughs and it’s again neat to watch Beca play around with loops and improvise, as well as encounter hilariously acerbic commentators Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins), returning under the guise of filming a documentary about the Bellas’ fall from grace.
Problems arise, however, when Pitch Perfect 3 gets away from the singing and the group’s core problems. Convenient romances with the handful of men they encounter are no substitute for the exchanges with former beaus and rivals in Barden’s male a capella group, the Treblemakers, whose Bumper (Adam DeVine), Benji (Ben Platt) and Jesse (Skylar Astin) are sadly absent for round three.
John Lithgow, playing a somewhat different type of father figure than in Daddy’s Home 2, is generally amusing as Fat Amy’s crooked dad, but where he steers the plot alongside the familiar drama of Beca given an opportunity to further her career and weighing that option against leaving the Bellas behind makes for a fairly flimsy narrative.
As with the previous installments, a capella thankfully saves the day and closes Pitch Perfect 3 in satisfactory fashion, suggesting the series truly has reached its end — at least with these characters. If so, it’s been an a capleasure.
Grade: B. Rated PG-13. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Universal Pictures)