Pitch Perfect 3 Review
Last Call Pitches!
The Bellas are back for more aca-added made-up words, in the Christmas-timed second sequel to the popular Pitch Perfect.Just five years ago Pitch Perfect hit the screens, becoming something of a sleeper hit, making almost ten times its budget and attracting a surprising amount of praise from critics - it was fun, funny and perhaps most importantly lacked pretentiousness. It became the second highest grossing musical comedy film after School of Rock, and pushed its largely unknown cast into the limelight, with star Anna Kendrick arguably running with the newfound fame to become something of an entity in and of herself. The 2015 sequel reunited the cast and somehow balanced both freshness and familiarity to deliver the goods, similarly following the critical and commercial success route, proving almost as much fun as the first film whilst doubling the box office to become the highest grossing musical comedy. A third film was inevitable.Director Trish Sie - who has the dubious fame of directing a straight-to-video Step Up sequel - directs the third Pitch Perfect flick as little more than a bigger budget straight-to-video affair, finding little visual distinction with her pedestrian style. Beyond the cold open (possibly the result of the reshoots that delayed the release and ostensibly the highlight of the film, but actually poorly built up and quite anticlimatic), the heavy lifting for this film remains firmly in the hands of the game cast who prove, despite the DTV feel, to be up for singing their hearts out and riffing off one another even when the film is falling apart around them. It's a shame the previous sequel's helmer Elizabeth Banks (who remains a strong force behind the scenes) didn't commit to this one too, as perhaps she would have delivered a more inspired effort.
After their singing successes at college and in winning the World Championships, the a capella group, The Bellas, have all graduated and gone their own separate ways. Finding real life mundane by comparison, however, they leap at the opportunity to go to a reunion party, expecting to recapture their glory days for one fantastic night. When their hopes are dashed, the experience still propels them to look for a way to put the Bellas back together, and give them all another chance to do what they do best.
Pitch Perfect 3 is immediately hobbled by lazy writing, offering very little understanding as to why, post-college, this group would suddenly decide to go on another tour and attempting to suggest that it may be because their lives are all so terrible but then - at the same time - suggest that these are the very same lives that they are eventually going to go back to. It's repeated, aborted ideas are frustrating even in a film where expectations are naturally set low - even all the way up to an ending which completely undermines the core themes of the movie. This isn't some Oscar-winning drama, but its in-movie logic is at a pretty low bar for even a musical comedy to attain, and it's a shame that a Pitch Perfect sequel can't even be bothered to reach for it.
Franchise fans will still be happy to have The Bellas back together
Still, it's an exercise in forgiveness, letting go of script logic, character arcs, and even simple in-movie themes in favour of mood and music, with Anna Kendrick leading her game returning compatriots as they sing their way back into our hearts. Its in the excellently choreographed setpieces that the franchise really shines, and this entry is certainly no exception, really offering an impressive pitch perfect volley of performances that leave you tapping your feet to the mouth-made-beat. With Kendrick commanding the core character and a suitably unleashed Rebel Wilson on hand to steer the direction of the best laughs, as well as solid backup from a broad supporting cast (even Orange is the New Black star Ruby Rose continues her Big Screen quest after XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and John Wick 2), Pitch Perfect 3 just about transcends its flaws to remain lightly entertaining, and intermittently engaging - certainly for the song tracks, and for the sheer pleasure of having the Bellas back.
Billed as the last entry, it's not quite the ending that fans would have ideally hoped for, and a bit more time, effort and refinement (rather than bigger budget effects) could have certainly afforded more memorable high notes for The Bellas to sing themselves out on. But franchise fans with suitably reset expectations will still be warmly happy to have them back together again, and, come the end of it all, will still be sweetly sad to see them go.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.