There’s nothing wrong with a good old fashion sequel that tries to bring the band back together for one last go around as long as expectations are kept within reason.
As the Bellas reunite for their farewell tour with Pitch Perfect 3 we still get a handful of fun moments from this loveable crew of misfits but like any farewell tour we realize all too vividly that the probably should have called it quits after the last go around.
Years after the highs of winning the World Championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren’t job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time.
While far from terrible, the saga of the Bellas does end here in Pitch Perfect 3 with a very rush narrative and script that tries to fit far too much into a lean and mean 93 minute run time that squanders not only the natural and likeable chemistry of the ensemble but the larger set piece musical numbers that had a touch more flair then we’ve seen in past installments.
With director Trish Sie taking the reins from Elizabeth Banks here we do get to appreciate a certain sense of importance and scale to the proceedings as it all does feel a little bolder and bigger, at least from a visual standpoint. However where this movie ultimately suffers is from an overstuffed and unbalanced script from Kay Cannon and Mike White who basically try to put more on the screen with a solid 20 minutes less to work with then the previous installments. You could feel while watching this that it was trying to cram 2.5 hours of material into a 90 minute frame and like the square peg into the round hole it just wasn’t get there.
Rife with far too many underdeveloped character side plots that were either uninteresting or just a little goofy, and these things either needed to be padded out or cut altogether…neither of which happened as we get side plots of Daddy issue from various members in the group and the anxiety of wanting to stay together as long as possible since the world outside of their singing group hasn’t exactly been up to any of their expectations. Sure it has a nice little message about appreciating what you’ve got while still holding on to your fond memories of another time but any genuine sentiment gets lost in slick yet far too numerous musical numbers and montage cutaways that try to deliver the maximum information in the least amount of time.
It’s a saving grace of the movie and honestly the entire franchise that Kendrick and all of the Bellas are just so damn likeable together with some very natural chemistry that translates both emotionally and comedicaly, the problem is that they never get to show it. Kendrick is a natural and commanding the screen and can carry a movie with ease as we see her Beca at a cross roads as an music producer and ultimately evolving into an artist of her own, much like we’ve seen in the career paths of a number of top level pop stars right now, which at least makes her story accessible and easily the most interesting.
Sadly it rattles through the stories of the rest of the Bellas far too quickly or saddles us with a goofy romance subplot or forces Rebel Wilson into a ridiculous subplot with John Lithgow (who is clearly trolling it all for a paycheck) as her criminal long lost dead beat father. I didn’t necessarily mind it going goofy and having the Bellas be kidnapped on a yacht in the south of France that ultimately explodes, but they really just left it underdeveloped and kind of pointless. It either needed to be leaned into harder to just cut altogether. The usual suspects like Anna Camp, Brittany Snow and Hailee Steinfeld get a couple of moments to flash and standout while Ruby Rose just feels wasted because the narrative is moving so damn fast that it never resonates and anything positive that they might have done gets run over like a speeding locomotive blasting death metal out of the speakers to make sure you just don’t know what is really going on.
At the very least, Pitch Perfect 3 is a clear and definitive ending for the Bellas and from that perspective it’s fine, at least until we get the straight to video installments much like the Bring It On or American Pie franchises that will inevitably drive this all into the ground. Fun if you’re a fan…but only just.