Pitch Perfect 3
dir Trish Sie
scr Kay Cannon, Mike White
prd Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Max Handelman
with Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnet, John Lithgow, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, DJ Khaled
release UK 20.Dec.17, US 22.Dec.17
17/US Universal 1h33
Pitch Perfect 3
Playing dress-up: Kendrick, Wilson and Steinfeld

snow lithgow banks

See also:
Pitch Perfect (2012) Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Pitch Perfect 3 With the scent of contractual obligation in the air, this sequel never tries to live up to the nimble inventiveness of its predecessors. The dialog is still witty enough to keep us laughing, but the characters are now saddled with contrived plotlines, corny slapstick and some feeble attempts at sentimentality. It's not a complete disaster, but it should have sent these terrific characters off with a guffaw rather than a smile.

It's been a few years and the ex-Bellas are struggling to get their lives on track. So when they hear about a European USO tour, they decide to relive past a cappella glories, facing off against the other bands ("there's always a competition") to be named as tour's host DJ Khaled new opening act. Along the way, Beca (Kendrick) is having a crisis of confidence again, and Fat Amy (Wilson) runs into her estranged criminal mastermind father (Lithgow). There are also two cute new guys (Lanter and Burnet) for them to flirt with.

Thankfully, Gail and John (Banks and Higgins) tag along to shoot a documentary and provide their wildly ridiculous commentary. Each of the characters get a few genuine zingers along the way. But it's a shame that writer Cannon, this time working with the usually snappy White, can't find anything interesting for these women to do. Instead, they're thrown into numbingly dull action sequences. And the other tepid subplots never gain any steam either.

As before, the interaction is entertaining, especially when they find a spark of conflict. Mostly though they are discovering that they're family, which isn't terribly original or insightful. At the centre, Kendrick anchors things nicely as the sensible, unassumingly talented one, while Wilson provides relentless distractions in her wacky antics and riotously rude dialog. Snow, Camp and Steinfeld get to develop their characters a little bit, while the others swirl mainly in the background.

There were clearly big ideas going into this, as the premise throws the Bellas into a world in which musicians use (shock!) instruments. But the filmmakers never integrate these worlds, setting up a mock rivalry that never rings true, so none of the music stands out. All of the songs are sharply well produced and performed, but nothing properly catches us by surprise this time, which is a real problem for a comedy. And then there's the core issue that the jokes are simply too far apart.

cert 12 themes, innuendo, violence 20.Dec.17

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