‘Pitch Perfect 3’ is Dumb, Silly and Aca-Awkward, for Better or Worse

Pitch_Perfect_3Say what you will about the “Pitch Perfect” series but there is something commendable about milking three successful films out of the concept of a college a cappella group.

“Pitch Perfect 3” is the third and final film of the trilogy that stars Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit and Alexis Knapp as members of the Barden Bellas. This time around, having graduated college and out working in the real world, the girls reunite for one final performance at a USO show. Trish Sie directs as Kay Cannon writes the script with Mike White.

I am a “Pitch Perfect” fanboy, it is one of my guilty pleasure franchises. The first film is so wonderfully dorky, quirky and different and even if the second is more of the same to a lesser degree, I found entertainment in it. I was looking forward to this “epic” conclusion when it was announced (even if I realized how utterly pointless it was) and, for the most part, for better or for worse, it does not disappoint.

The best gauge I can give you on whether or not you’re going to enjoy this film is to ask, did you forgive the flaws of the second film? If, like me, you found the charms of the cast and quips of the script fun enough to overcome the sense of needlessness then this third film will demand the same, if not slightly more, mercy. If you were one of those who enjoyed the first film but felt the second was a dumb rehash then you may want to skip this because it jumps the shark and is clearly running on artistic fumes.

Anna Kendrick is once again the film’s rock, giving a (somewhat surprisingly) dedicated performance in the role that shot her into stardom. She already had an Oscar nomination when the first film came out in 2012 but it was that small budget singing flick that put her on the map. Unlike Jennifer Lawrence with “X-Men” or Bradley Cooper with “The Hangover” Kendrick doesn’t seem to take the series for granted and wants to finish what she started without sleepwalking.

For better or worse the first film also introduced the world to Rebel Wilson and like most everything else with the series, she is the same here as she’s been; if you liked her random sexual one-liners then you’ll laugh but if you’ve always found her one-note and annoying then you’ll roll your eyes.

John Lithgow pops up sporting a fake Australian accent and he is absolutely abysmal. A complete waste of one of our finest talents and funnier men, he is given nothing to do or any real jokes to deliver and it made me long for the days of “Daddy’s Home 2” (a film I did not review but did see and didn’t completely hate). I miss Skylar Astin more and more with each passing sequel…

I won’t criticize the plot of the film too much (because there really isn’t one) but the one thing I’ll credit the film with is also one of its flaws. The filmmakers realized they had already stretched this series and these groups of characters thin so this time around they have them do some globe-hopping before getting kidnapped on a yacht. The jumping-the-shark plotlines are to be slightly commended, joking that the world cares this much about a college a cappella group, but the whole thing is never directed well-enough or enough tongue-in-cheek to fully embrace the absurdity.

The musical numbers are infectious and toe-tapping, even if this riff-off isn’t as entertaining or cameo-ridden as the ones in the previous two films, and seeing the likes of Ruby Rose or DJ Khaled (because, why not) show up provides some harmonious moments.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you “Pitch Perfect 3” is a good movie because it really isn’t; it is lazy and unneeded and wastes one of the finer actors of our generation. But as a fan of this series I do feel that this is as good a swan song as they could have hoped to go out on and it isn’t so bad that it made me question why I liked the first film in the first place (like “Horrible Bosses 2,” “Ted 2” or “Taken 3”). I know my rating is going to seem low given my lukewarm recommendation but what is a rating besides a subjective summarization of a review you just read, right? I personally had a good time watching this group of dorks do their aca-thing and if you’re a forgiving filmgoer then I think you will, too.

Critics Rating: 5/10

Universal Pictures

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