Labelled “the encore nobody asked for” Pitch Perfect 3 is about to hit cinemas—whether we like it or not.
In the third instalment the largely unemployed, and relatively unhappy, Barden Bellas are desperate to perform together one last time. So, when they find themselves with the opportunity to win a contract to open for DJ Khaled they throw themselves at the chance in true Bellas’ fashion—passionately, and with little dignity.
In a film far from perfect the star-studded cast we all know and love are swept up in the film’s desperate struggle to recapture the spectacle of the original, resulting in a third film of an increasingly formulaic franchise that fails to amaze, and at times, even amuse.
The Barden Bellas begin their adventure by throwing down the gauntlet in the classic, now somewhat forced, riff-off against their rivals—poetically named Evermoist, Saddle Up, and DJ Dragon Nuts (DJ Looney)—amidst the sharp commentary of John (John Higgens) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks). It seems that features like this are now a condition of the franchise, and as I watched I found myself gradually checking off each of the recognisable aspects listed below:
- A singing competition
- A riff-off
- One or two potential romances
- More and more scenes with Fat Amy
After an opening that left me incredibly confused, featuring Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) leaping out of a boat while it explodes Michael Bay-style behind them, the film attempts to appeal to fans by combining more Fat Amy scenes with an odd kidnapping subplot with punch-ups. This subplot strays far from the Pitch Perfect formula, and it does so dreadfully. Fat Amy’s estranged, conman of a father (John Lithgow) comes back into her life to attempt to forge a new bond with his daughter—and Lithgow delivers the most god-awful, wannabe Australian accent I’ve ever heard. Although I’d never say no to more Rebel Wilson scenes, it was abundantly clear that the franchise was struggling to appease fans—as Fat Amy has well and truly been upgraded from a side-character to one of the leads, slightly diminishing the once punchy impact of her role in the film. Despite this, Wilson managed to keep her head above the rising floodwater that was this horrendous subplot and provided some of the most redeemable moments of the film through her hilarious and loveable performance.Unfortunately, the singing wasn’t as fantastic as the first film; it was still a thoroughly enjoyable aspect, with some wonderful performances by Kendrick and the group to liven up the film and remind us that sisterhood and acapella are cool, despite the fact that the Bellas’ were often being shown up by competing bands. There were many aspects of the film that aimed to redeem the franchise from the flop that was the sequel—which received a considerable amount of hate regarding racist one-liners and frustratingly rude commentators that missed their comedic mark. I can assure you that the creators listened to that criticism and set out with the clear intention of fixing those issues, as the commentators returned to delivering witty remarks—casual racism far removed.
These changes made it far better than the train wreck of the sequel, but it does not live up to the magic of the first, and honestly, how could it? The whole allure of Pitch Perfect was that it was a unique comedy that succeeded in surprising its audience with lively humour delivered by some fantastic females, and once the plot becomes too thin to ignore and the humour starts to feel forced there’s not much left to do but lay the franchise to rest. Fans of the series will most likely enjoy Pitch Perfect 3 amidst mixed emotions, but I’d still suggest foregoing the cinema expense and waiting until it comes out on Netflix.
Pitch Perfect 3 is in cinemas now.