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'Pitch Perfect 3' Film Review: An aca-amazing send-off for the franchise

December 22, 2017Sherry Li

Pitch Perfect 3, directed by Trish Sie, is non-stop fun and doesn't take itself too seriously, making it the perfect send-off for the Bardem Bellas. Sure to satisfy fans of the series, it's exactly what you might be expecting when you think of the Pitch Perfect franchise — great laughs, quirky characters and fantastic a cappella performances.

The film opens with a Bond-esque prologue that has the Bellas performing and then jumping off the deck of an exploding yacht. And yet somehow, the movie makes the ridiculousness of that scene work once we rejoin Beca (Anna Kendrick), who has just quit her job and is living in New York City with Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). None of them seem particularly happy about their situation, but when they reunite with their fellow former Bellas to watch the current Bardem Bellas lineup perform, it gets them reminiscing about their a cappella days and wanting to relive the spotlight once again, thus setting the plot into motion.

Story-wise, Pitch Perfect 3 is all about the Bellas saying their goodbyes in the most aca-amazing way they can — with one final tour that reunites all the original members for a European adventure in which they vie for a coveted spot opening for DJ Khaled, competing against bands that perform more than just a cappella. But while the movie consistently utilizes this premise to deliver on the laughs, it also manages to include a few touching and heartfelt moments as well. Some of these feel a little too forced, but it works thanks to the realistic and wholesome friendship these girls all share with one another and the mutual support they've found in each other.

Because the ensemble cast is so large, however, it's hard for all the characters to really develop and grow. With names like Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins and John Lithgow joining Kendrick, Snow and Wilson, it's hard for anyone to really stand out, and many of these actors go underused. Still, there are some hilarious callouts and followups to past installments, particularly with Hana Mae Lee's character, Lilly, which will please fans of the first and second film. Most disappointingly, however, neither Skylar Astin nor Adam Devine make an appearance, with the former's absence explained in a throwaway line about how his long-distance relationship with Beca didn't work out.

That being said, you still see enough of your favorite characters, especially if you happen to love Fat Amy. This movie develops more of Fat Amy's backstory, with her father — played by Lithgow and described as a "very bad man" — causing mischief in the subplot. In fact, the film expands so much beyond the realm of just a cappella this time around that it feels quite messy at times. But by the end, screenwriters Kay Cannon and Mike White manage to conclude the story all too conveniently and with nicely-wrapped endings for everyone.

Pitch Perfect 3 does emphasize the fact that, even though the girls have grown up and have started to move away from the Bellas, they'll always be there for each other. The movie wants to make it clear that the Bellas have become more than just a musical group, showcasing the growth that they’ve gone through together in the years since the first film. It's definitely a rehash of similar sentiments already explored in the first and second movies, but if you enjoy watching these characters then it doesn't grow tired.

The result doesn't exactly add anything new or unexpected to the franchise, and it can definitely feel a little bit too much at times, but Pitch Perfect 3 does a great job capturing all the heart and spirit of the original film. It certainly is a blast watching the Bellas reunite and perform together once again, and though the story isn't fresh, the new rivals they face are entertaining, the music is great and these familiar characters are just as fun to spend time with as they've always been.

Pitch Perfect 3 releases December 22nd, 2017 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and some action. Its runtime is 1 hr. 33 min.

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