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Pitch Perfect 3 - Review

Pitch Perfect 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

NEVER underestimate the lengths studios will go to keep their franchises alive. Where the original Pitch Perfect was fresh, funny and full of great a capella, Pitch Perfect 3 is desperate, stale and – well ok – still full of great songs.

Unfortunately, the latter element only goes so far in making this three-quel bearable. In most other regards, Pitch Perfect 3 continues the downward spiral set in motion by the first sequel.

The problem is that while plenty of thought has been put into the songs, which are delivered with crowd-pleasing relish, not enough thought [if any] was put into the story. The film feels like a flimsy attempt to get The Bellas back together. It’s bereft of good ideas and tone deaf in terms of decent dialogue.

Set a little while after their victory in the world championships, the film finds The Bellas leading ordinary, if not disastrous lives and pining for the chance to sing together one more time.

Their opportunity arises in the form of a series of troop shows, which find them travelling to Europe to entertain US soldiers and possibly catch the eye of real-life super-producer DJ Khaled. In between performing, there’s the chance for Aubrey (Anna Camp) to impress her absentee military dad, for Chloe (Brittany Snow) to find love and happiness, for Beca (Anna Kendrick) to take her musical career to the next level and for Amy (Rebel Wilson) to, erm, also come to terms with an absentee dad (John Lithgow), who is seeking a dubious reunion.

This latter plot device is particularly excruciating given that Lithgow’s dad is an obvious loser and bad apple, complete with all over the place Australian accent, who affords The Bellas the chance for a third act slice of kidnap and explosion (teased in the opening moments). Bar from bringing anything fresh or credible to the film, the storyline underlines just how woefully short of good material it is.

If anything, it feels as though the film is playing a kind of what if/wish fulfilment fantasy with itself, where any idea – no matter how bad – is thrown in to see whether it sticks. It doesn’t matter if it’s in keeping with anything that’s come before. If anything, the more absurd the better.

But this comes at the cost of The Bellas themselves, many of whom play second fiddle to the constantly shifting scenarios.

Wilson strives hardest for laughs but is also found wanting, her self-deprecating wit now coming across as crass and wide of the mark. She’s becoming the Jar Jar Binks of this franchise and too much emphasis is placed upon her. The less said about Lithgow, the better.

Of the other cast members, Kendrick somehow emerges with reputation intact and gets most of the best solo moments, while Snow endears by virtue of her awkwardness.

But too many of the supporting Bellas are left wanting in terms of material (particularly Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily), while an early attempt at delivering some new rivals (including feisty all-girl rockers Evermoist) fizzles out mid-film and gets largely forgotten.

It’s left to the song and dance routines to salvage any goodwill and, thanks to some well choreographed set pieces and good choices, they do deliver some highs – most notably in the form of an inventive early riff off and a climactic big finale that also serves as a neat George Michael tribute.

But in most other respects, Pitch Perfect 3 feels like yet another unnecessary three-quel that should never really have seen the light of day. Songs aside, it’s a huge disappointment.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 94mins
UK Release Date: December 20, 2017