By Jack Dignan
I’m really not sure what it is about these movies that I enjoy. The first Pitch Perfect, released in 2012, was a smash hit, gaining a large audience through its musical fan-base while winning over everyone else with its charm and humour. Three years later, we got Pitch Perfect 2, a film I certainly enjoyed at the time, but looking back on it, maybe I shouldn’t have. I don’t know. I’m probably not going to watch either of them again. But now it’s 2017, or at least the final 12 days of 2017, and we have Pitch Perfect 3, where once again, I definitely shouldn’t be enjoying this. And yet I kind of did.
Our sixth, maybe seventh, favourite on-screen singing band, The Bella’s, have moved on with their lives, all having gone their separate ways after the events of the last film. Beca (Anna Kendrick) has recently lost her job, while roommate Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is still struggling to find one. When ex-Bella (I guess? Even though she was literally initiated in the final scene of the last film) Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) invites the Bella’s to reunite and watch her perform live, jealousy and unspoken anger brews within them. They may have moved on with their lives, but it certainly hasn’t made them happier.
So, they do what all has-beens do and get back together again. It’s the reunion cinema has been waiting for! Forget your classic Star Wars characters coming back to the big screen; give me the Bella’s any day of the week. *sighs* But hey, Star Wars this is not, but mind numbing fun it is, as the Bella’s are taken overseas on an international singing competition, where first prize offers a chance at fame and a shot at singing with a big star. It’s game on… for the third time in a row. So, to shake things up, the writers have thrown in a more action-oriented plot, where our characters leap from an exploding boat in glorious slow motion shortly after beating a bunch of dudes to a pulp.
It’s wild. One might even say too wild. Pitch Perfect 3 is ridiculous in all the right and wrong ways, where there’s some fun to be had, but while you’re having this fun you’ll be questioning whether anything you’re watching is actually happening or if it’s some weird drug-induced dream you had back in college. They gave out vibrant coloured donuts before the premiere and now I’m starting to question what ingredients they put inside them. Or maybe I just have a soft spot inside my heart for Rebel Wilson charging down boats John Wick-style and kicking some serious ass. It’s a soft spot I never knew I had.
But no matter how much action they needlessly throw in our direction, it’s the music and the core friendship that really holds this franchise together. We’re now three films in, and while their relationships still haven’t been shaken up in any way or given any sort of new complexity or complications, their strong bond is admirable, and leads to a number of very funny jokes. Highlights come from the moments of self-criticism, where the film lets the audience know how bad of a film this is, turning uninteresting side characters you didn’t realise were in this film into some of the more memorable scene stealers. Alas, it still didn’t help me remember their names.
Sadly, as well, it does feel a little over-crowded, and despite the film’s best efforts to turn these characters into one-time jokes, they’re still nothing more than one-time jokes. The rest of their screen time sees most of the Bella’s awkwardly standing around waiting for one of the main cast members to do something, and even then, none of them feel all that relevant. It’s Beca’s story through and through, despite an admittedly interesting sub-plot between Rebel Wilson and her absent father, played by John Lithgow. Her arc is coming to a close and it’s a decent send off for her character… until the film rakes in the money and a fourth installment is green lit.
There’s no cinematic beauty to be found here, nor many interesting ideas you haven’t seen in about ten other films, two of which are the previous Pitch Perfect movies. Plus, when you look at the bigger picture, nothing in this film flows at all. You’re introduced to a rival band led by Ruby Rose, yet they’re forgotten about twenty minutes later. This really shouldn’t be a good film. It almost certainly isn’t. But if you’re after a good time, go check if any seats are left for Star Wars. And if they’re not… I guess Pitch Perfect 3 will do.
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