I doubt Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks and the rest of the cast and crew, when they made the original “Pitch Perfect”, were thinking that a comedy about a college A cappella singing group would turn into a viable franchise. The first “Pitch” was a base hit, the second – a double. This third time at bat, however, is pretty much a strike-out.
At only 93 minutes, “Pitch Perfect 3” is a short swan song for the Bellas. Musical performances take-up about half the time, with renditions of a couple dozen pop hits from the past few years. The other half consists of a weak and imperfect plot involving the Bellas performing for the troops overseas and competing for a spot on a TV special with none other than D…J…Khaled!
As far as actual screen time, Khaled probably gets more than anyone else in “Pitch Perfect 3”. Plus, his name is mentioned by various characters at least 50 times. That had to be in his contract. And there’s an odd subplot that gets even odder: Wilson’s “Fat Amy”/Patricia reunites with her dad (played by John Lithgow, sporting a terrible Aussie accent). This storyline gets so extreme that “PP3” actually turns into an action movie at one point.
The only interesting question this film poses, during one of the long riff-offs, is whether A cappella singing is still “cool”, and I think the answer is reflective of the times. Two and a half years ago, “Pitch Perfect 2” was a summer blockbuster, making $185 million in the U.S. – nearly tripling the total of the original.
“PP3” will still make some money, and the musical performances are fine, though they’re certainly not special. But the overall concept just doesn’t have the shine it once did.
Much like the third and final installments of “Night at the Museum”, “High School Musical” and several other series, “Pitch Perfect 3” was made to get everyone back together and say their goodbyes – to each other and the fans. Those who have been with the Bellas from the beginning will certainly like how director Trish Sie ends things – with a heartfelt final scene and behind-the-scenes footage from all three films during the credits.
But outside of that, there’s hardly anything here. I chuckled less than half a dozen times – and about half of those are credited to the duo of Banks and John Michael Higgins, who return as the competition commentators and now (for some reason) documentary filmmakers.
For Kendrick, “Pitch Perfect” helped increase her A-list status, but she’s been a part of so many other big films in recent years (“Up in the Air”, “Into the Woods”, “The Accountant”, “Trolls”) and has several more in development. So moving on from the world of the Bellas isn’t going to cause her career to suffer one bit.
The futures of nearly everyone else who’ve been a part of this trilogy from the start (Hailee Steinfeld, who joined the franchise with “PP2”, has nothing to worry about) are a lot less secure. It’ll be interesting to see if any of those supporting cast members can hit another high note.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Pitch Perfect 3” gets a C-.
Running Time: 93 min.