Friday, 5 January 2018

Film Review: Pitch Perfect 3

The Pitch Perfect series goes out on a bum note in this staggeringly dumb threequel.

After the second film surpassed School of Rock as the highest-grossing music comedy of all-time in 2015, it became all but assured that the Barden Bellas would take to the stage for a third time in the near future. 

Pitch Perfect 3, which is billed as the final film in the series, therefore is something of a victory lap for Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld and the rest of the crew; congratulatory and coasting along, this farewell fails to live up to its predecessors by stretching its premise too far and jumping the shark via some indulgent and unnecessary subplots.

The hoops that the film has to jump through to put the Bellas back on stage are where things start to get a little shaky. We’re just supposed to brush it off and enjoy that they’re back, not ask boring questions about how the plot actually works. Thanks to some hand-wavy explanation, the Bellas jet across to Europe on some kind of audition tour for guest star DJ Khaled, who plays himself (pun intended). Supposedly they’ll score an opening slot on his tour if they impress DJ Khaled – or something. It’s not hugely important.

Pitch Perfect 3 shines when it sticks to what it does best; a capella. The music, which includes renditions of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’, DNCE’s ‘Cake By The Ocean’ and Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’ as well as the usual riff-off, is polished and enjoyable. However, the soundtrack doesn’t sport a knock-out track akin to ‘Cups’ or ‘Flashlight’ from the first two entries. 

Conversely, the romance subplots fail to hit the right notes; with their former love interests ditched, Kendrick and Snow are paired off with new vanilla hunks that are bland as they are signposted from the moment they stride onto screen. Camp is also lumbered with a throwaway subplot about her distant father in the military, which lacks payoff come the end.

Now, back to those throwaway subplots; rather than focus purely on the music, screenwriters Kay Cannon and Mike White tack on a ridiculous aside that sees Wilson reunited with her international arms dealer father (John Lithgow, sporting one of the worst Australian accents committed to film). 

Their rocky relationship hits a speed bump towards the final act, where it is revealed Lithgow is actually after Fat Amy’s secret Cayman Islands fortune, so he kidnaps the Bellas and holds them hostage aboard his yacht on the French Riviera (no, I am not making this up). A rescue mission, conducted by Wilson and Kendrick, ends is a gigantic fireball and sees Fat Amy wielding sausages as nunchucks and decking goons like she’s the long-lost sister of John Wick and Jason Bourne (still not making it up). It’s like a Comedy Central crossover spoof, and not in a good way.

The Verdict: 4.5/10

Not lacking in energy, Pitch Perfect 3 unfortunately can’t translate its earnestness into anything that feels harmonious with the first two. The lazy screenplay isn’t enough to sustain the film, especially during the sillier subplots. The finale is suitably heartfelt for fans – you just have to wade through lots of dumb stuff to get there.

Pitch Perfect 3 is in cinemas across Australia now.

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