Pitch Perfect 3

Review by Hannah Woodhead @goodjobliz

Directed by

Trish Sie

Starring

Anna Kendrick Hailee Steinfeld Rebel Wilson

Anticipation.

Ooh, Trish Sie directed that OK Go music video everyone liked!

Enjoyment.

Off-key warbling en masse.

In Retrospect.

It’s a no from us.

The final film in Kay Cannon’s trilogy about a group of singing friends is more awk-apella than a cappella.

There’s a moment in Pitch Perfect 3 when our plucky rag-tag band of heroines square off against their stock second sequel rivals, and decide to have a ‘Riff Off’ (for the uninitiated, that’s the a cappella version of a rap battle). It’s a set piece that viewers have come to expect from the franchise, but now in its third iteration, things have gotten a bit stale.

Case in point: the Bardon Bellas burst into a rendition of R Kelly’s ‘Ignition (Remix)’. The fact that in 2017 it’s still considered acceptable for a big budget film to license a song by such a deeply problematic individual – a big budget film that sells itself on the notion of female empowerment, no less – speaks to how badly wrong Hollywood continues to get it.

The reason that the original Pitch Perfect film did so well in 2012 (making $115.4 million on a $17 million budget) is fairly simple: it gave audiences something that they hadn’t really seen before. A group of young women, doing something they loved, refusing to bow to a society that tells women to sit down, play nice, and let men do the talking. Its 2014 sequel – while hardly breaking new ground – did even better, making a massive $287.5 million on a $29 million budget. It was quirky and compassionate and genuinely a pretty fun time.

The films have been sold on the charisma of its stars (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Hailee Steinfeld, to name a few) and a message of girl power not seen since the likes of Spice World. Pitch Perfect 3 is the purported final instalment in the saga, and sees the group head to Europe to perform as an act on a United States military tour, headlined by superstar producer and social media mainstay, DJ Khaled. The idea of DJ Khaled being supported on tour by an a cappella troupe proves that Pitch Perfect is set in some sort of strange alternative universe – one where Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) can record a perfectly-engineered song in three minutes, and uncomfortable patriotic overtones go unchecked.

There’s support in the form of Ruby Rose (who plays a moody singer in the unfortunately-named band EverMoist) and John Lithgow, who has unbridled fun donning an Aussie accent and providing minor peril for the songstresses. Yet this can’t save the film from being a strange hodgepodge of genres and tones, right down to a particularly off-putting mid-section montage that serves as a classic move-the-story-along device.

This wouldn’t be such a glaring issue were there, in fact, much of a plot to start with, but in an attempt to side-step accusations of retreading old ground, screenwriter Kay Cannon opts to stumble from musical comedy to crime caper and back. There’s a subplot for Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy, but the rest of the action focuses solely on Beca’s tiresome whining about her desire to hit the big time. Every other character receives a trite stock ending by the time the credits roll, which feels insulting to cast and audience.

With a cosy Christmas release date, Pitch Perfect 3 is clearly intended as a film to pass the time during the holidays (and have already seen Star Wars). A bit of light-hearted entertainment is no bad thing, and might even be considered welcome respite, but in this case, everything feels so lazy, so ill-conceived and so, so boring. There’s none of the charm which made its predecessors lightly enjoyable comic outings. The jokes don’t land, the cliches stack up, and it doesn’t do any justice to its charming cast.

Published 19 Dec 2017

Tags: Anna Kendrick Rebel Wilson

Anticipation.

Ooh, Trish Sie directed that OK Go music video everyone liked!

Enjoyment.

Off-key warbling en masse.

In Retrospect.

It’s a no from us.

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