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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Pitch Perfect 3

(M) ★★

Director: Trish Sie.

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, John Lithgow, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnett, DJ Khaled, Ruby Rose.

"They're making a third Pitch Perfect film? Why?"
Read my review for Pitch Perfect here.
Read my review for Pitch Perfect 2 here.

There is a moment when Rebel Wilson's character Fat Amy punches a shark (not a real one). Some time later, the movie jumps one. It's one of many problems facing this disappointing trilogy ender.

Pitch Perfect 3 is a great example of many things, such as "milking an idea dry", "the uncalled-for second sequel", "continued diminishing returns", "the wearing out of a welcome", and "not knowing when to stop".

It's a shame. The first film was great, the second was okay, but the third one is bad enough to run the risk of damaging the brand. If you're only here for a handful of laughs and the singing bits, by all means, fill your boots. Even then you'll still be disappointed, as the laughs are fewer and the charm of the Bellas' a capella schtick has worn thin.

But the biggest problem is the story. In a desperate search for a third movie plot, these old college friends have a reunion, realise their lives are broken, and that putting the band back together for a singing tour of Europe is what is needed to put meaning back into their existences.

Naturally there is a competition element to it all (at least they kind of poke fun at that), but because the main story comes up desperately short in running time we get a subplot involving Fat Amy's dad (Lithgow) that sends the whole thing over the edge into bizarre new territory (think really bad spy movie). Oh and it turns out at the end most of their lives aren't broken anyway, so what was the point of all this again?

While the action diversion is as dodgy as Lithgow's Aussie accent, you at least have to give the film points for trying something new (even though it doesn't work) because a lot of this is tired. Beca (Kendrick), while still a great character, is given an existential crisis that feels similar to the one she faced in Pitch Perfect 2, and the idea of life after the Bellas is again central to the film as it was in Pitch Perfect 2. Plus the whole competition thing is so stale the film kind of drops it by the third act and instead is content to watch the whole plot slide off the rails. Shoehorning in Higgins and Banks for their witty commentary is a real stretch and a good example of how far this film is going to recapture old glories without having a decent way to do it.

To its credit, Pitch Perfect 3 again manages to do its final musical moment right - a spine-tingling version of George Michael's Freedom that brings the house down. It also gets a few good laughs in, mostly thanks to Wilson and Kendrick, and for two acts at least it hits the tone that made the first two films so successful.

But its fading charms are not enough to save this from being a disappointing send-off for a series that didn't know when to stop.

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