Review: Pitch Perfect 3

Score: C+

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Hailee Steinfeld

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: PG-13


The world deserves a sequel to Spy, Paul Feig's 2015 espionage spoof starring Melissa McCarthy. But Pitch Perfect 3 isn't it, and I have no idea why they would even try to be.


A good third of this brief movie is devoted to Fat Amy's (Rebel Wilson) reunion with her heretofore unseen father (John Lithgow), a wealthy con man sporting an absolutely dreadful Australian accent. (Why they couldn't have just gotten Bryan Brown for this role, which he would have nailed, is another confounding mystery.) He's after her (again, previously unknown) trust fund in the Cayman Islands. When she refuses to give him access, knowing he'll abandon her again the second he's made his withdrawal, he kidnaps the rest of the Bellas and holds them for ransom.


But let's back up. How did we even get here? Much like the ripped bros of Magic Mike XXL, the former Bellas are a bunch of sad-sacks desperate to relive their glory days by going on one last tour before separating again. Through some connections in Aubrey's (Anna Camp) family, the Bellas (minus Stacie, whose pregnancy storyline is only there for a couple weak jokes and a moment designed to extract tears so blatant I rolled my eyes) join a USO tour of U.S. military bases in Europe, competing with a DJ-rapper combo, a country-pop band and an all-female rock group for a spot opening for DJ Khaled on his next tour.


And good god, is there ever a lot of DJ Khaled. The shameless pitchman and crafter of such all-time party songs as "All I Do Is Win" and this year's "I'm the One" is in this thing way too much, though most of his moments are just cutaways to him reacting to an onstage performance or looking at his phone.


What's disappointing about this outing is that Trish Sie (who stepped in for Elizabeth Banks) is one of the most innovative music video directors of the last decade, yet doesn't bring any of that visual flair to this movie. It's also set in gorgeous European countries, yet almost every scene is confined to drab interiors.


If it sounds like I hate this movie, that's not exactly true. When the film focuses on its basics – the competition, the one-liners and the friendship between the Bellas – it's a fun time. I also appreciated its meta jokes about how no one cares about Ashley (Shelley Regner) and Jessica (Kelley Jakle), and that Beca's a lot less prickly than she was in the first two movies.


There's been a lot of discussion in light of The Last Jedi about how much a franchise should remain faithful to its original film(s) and how much it should try something different. This is one series that didn't need to mix things up. The first film is still such a standout because of its simple story and great performances. Its later films, though still a lot of fun, fail when they get bogged down in subplots and unnecessary celebrity cameos. This is a serviceable farewell for the Bellas, but it could have been a lot better had it stayed true to itself.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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