The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 is two-thirds a watered-down rehash of the first two Pitch Perfect installments and one-third cringe-inducing action movie. That's right – action movie. It opens with the characters jumping off an exploding yacht. The feeling of seeing fireballs in a series about a capella singers can best be described as akin to what Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own felt when he famously said, ”There's no crying in baseball!”

The story finds the Barden Bellas not entirely happy with their adult lives. All they want is to sing together again. An opportunity presents itself when Aubrey (Anna Camp) suggests they take part in a USO tour to entertain the troops overseas. Of course, there has to be some kind of rivalry. In this case, it comes in the form of an all-female group with instruments called Evermoist. Becca (Anna Kendrick), Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), and the other Bellas need to upstage them if they want to win the prize, a chance to open for DJ Khaled (who plays himself). Riff-offs and mash-ups occur on a regular basis.

Presumably for the sole reason of having the characters return, commentators Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) are making a documentary about the Bellas. That piece of business goes absolutely nowhere and, once introduced, is largely abandoned until the end.

By now, the basic premise of Pitch Perfect has played itself out. This third episode struggles to create some kind of musical drama for the women to engage in. Evermoist's members aren't given an excess of screen time, which makes them dull opponents. They're snotty because, well, the movie needs them to be snotty so that we have some reason to root for the Bellas. (Let's be honest – we'd do that anyway.) Not much about the “contest” is very convincing, either, meaning that there isn't a lot in the way of dramatic thrust.

The biggest problem with Pitch Perfect 3 is a bizarre, thoroughly out-of-nowhere subplot about “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson) discovering that her long-absent crook father (John Lithgow) wants to reconnect with her. That might have been an okay storyline if it was actually played as a father/daughter thing. Instead, it leads to a weird martial arts-inspired fight sequence and the aforementioned exploding yacht. In a film that's ostensibly about singers, this material stands out like a sore thumb. You won't find a better example of a film series “jumping the shark” than this.

The things that have always worked about the franchise still provide some pleasure. The actresses are likable and have good chemistry together. Rebel Wilson drops some intermittently funny one-liners. The musical numbers are fun to watch, especially when they mesh together unlikely songs from varied genres. Since the stars can actually sing, they're credible in the roles.

Those elements provide a measure of entertainment that'll keep Pitch Perfect fans from becoming too restless. Still, it's hard to deny that this third chapter lacks inspiration. It's time for the Barden Bellas to either exit stage left or be dragged off by the hook.

( out of four)

Pitch Perfect 3 is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and some action. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.

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