Film Review – Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
Some film franchises just never seem to go away. For some odd reason, the Barden Bellas are back for another installment of acapella in Pitch Perfect 3. Only this time, it appears as if they’re adding some action and suspense to the mix. Let’s see what happens, I guess. The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Trish Sie
Written By: Mike White and Kay Cannon
Now that they are out of college and in the real world, the members of the Barden Bellas are quickly learning that the real world isn’t all its cracked up to be. Luckily, the group gets another chance to sing together for an overseas USO tour. It’s one last time to reclaim their glory.
Naturally, things don’t go the way the group expected, leading to some crazy realizations that threaten the relationships we’ve come to love.
Just before the release of Pitch Perfect 2, it was announced that Rebel Wilson was going to return for another film. However, no news about a third Pitch Perfect movie was confirmed at that time, leaving Wilson to exclaim that she was up for a Fat Amy spin-off movie. Luckily, Pitch Perfect 2 made a ton of cash, prompting Universal to quickly green light another feature film centered around the Barden Bellas instead of whatever a “Fat Amy spin-off” would entail.
People love the Pitch Perfect series. The first film was certainly a surprise hit, building word of mouth over time to eventually gross $115 million on a $17 million budget. However, the second film was where serious money was made. The film exploded to a $69 million opening weekend and finished with almost $288 million worldwide, more than doubling the budget of the first film with a mere $29 million budget for the sequel. With such a disparity between costs and revenues, it would be bad business for Universal to not finish out the trilogy, no matter the perceived quality of the films.
With a $45 million budget this time around, we’ll see if Pitch Perfect 3 can do some serious damage once again in a crowded weekend at the theaters.
The Chemistry Between the Girls is as Good as Ever
Even with its ridiculous extremes, Pitch Perfect 3 can still hang its hat on a likable group of ladies to belt out some catchy tunes. The music and dance numbers continue to work, but a lot of the enjoyment comes from very well-placed humor. Those involved with the creation of the film certainly went a little overboard with Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy (more on that later), but cast members like Anna Kendrick bring the snarky comedy in spades.
Speaking of Anna Kendrick, she is so lovely! She’s the heart of the group, providing what little sweetness the film as to offer. Yet, her greatest strength is her unconventional brand of comedy. It’s very conversational, slipping snarky comments that are weirdly specific and catch you off guard.
As with the other films, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are great as the meta, politically incorrect broadcasters that follow the Bellas around. Not only is their interplay great, but it’s a pleasant reminder to not take this movie so seriously. They defy logic to get from place to place, and the movie smartly points that out.
The Plot to Pitch Perfect 3 is Really, Really Dumb
That being said, Pitch Perfect 3 is probably one Pitch Perfect movie too many. The film certainly ran out of ideas in order for a music competition to occur, writing itself out of a hole using deus ex machina tactics in very obvious ways.
One of the most major signs of fatigue for a film franchise is when the writers dive further into the backstory of one of the side characters, squeezing all the laughs they possibly can out of a premise that has run its course. The creative team noticed that Rebel Wilson was massively popular after the first film hit theaters and amped up her presence up to eleven in Pitch Perfect 2. Now, her character’s story has become unbelievably ridiculous, even for a movie as silly as this one, turning Pitch Perfect into an action franchise in its third act. Do I want to see that from a movie that boasts funny ladies singing acapella? No, no I do not.
By the time the action wears down, the singing competition (the root of the franchise), no longer matters. With no clear adversity to the main story, those wanting another sweet underdog story will leave disappointed.
Captures a Certain Charm that Makes it Fun Despite its Serious Shortcomings
Pitch Perfect 3 is not a good movie by traditional means of film criticism. It’s a film with a nothing story and a tired premise. And yet, there’s something oddly enjoyable about this movie in its presentation. When the girls get together, they still have wonderful banter that makes for great moments of unexpected comedy.
The comedy builds with a great celebrity cameo that continues to give and give throughout the film. Some will find it annoying, but it plays perfectly given the events of the film.
Pitch Perfect 3 rides the line between stupid and silly, falling more to that latter due to its consistent call-backs to its knowledge of how dumb it is. The film references just about everything from unnecessary characters to bizarre story beats. It keeps things light, knowing what it is even though it sometimes diverts from that formula.
I’m fully aware that Pitch Perfect 3 isn’t a well constructed film. It breaks almost every cardinal sin of comedy sequels by generating a lazy story filled with cameos in order to justify its existence as well as going deeper into the backstory of a side character of whom fans are already getting tired. And yet, Pitch Perfect 3 is still bizarrely entertaining. It has an innocent charm that’s also self-depricating, making fun of itself for existing along with the audience.
These ladies continue to have great chemistry together, and that’ll be enough for fans of the previous two films. Pitch Perfect 3 is destined to become a guilty pleasure in the coming years.
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