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Pitch Perfect 3: One last hurrah

Stanley Widianto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, December 28, 2017  /  09:30 am
Pitch Perfect 3: One last hurrah

The Barden Bellas return to the spotlight one last time in Pitch Perfect 3, ending the celebrated Kay Cannon-penned series. (Universal Pictures, Gold Circle Films/File)

The Barden Bellas return to the spotlight one last time, ending the celebrated Kay Cannon-penned series.

Ever since Aubrey (Anna Camp) threw up gracelessly on stage, we have always thought of the Barden Bellas — the a capella group from the Pitch Perfect film series — as that singing group of misfits.

Adding layers to their adventures is their shared optimism; limbs may be lost, but they will find a way to walk. These adventures conclude in 2017.

It is too bad, then, that it ends on a mediocre note, as the third film, Pitch Perfect 3, fails to capture the novelty it portrayed back in 2012.

Trish Sie, the director — after Jason Moore and Elizabeth Banks before them — is fine, but the movie suffers from a plot so thin that its strengths and weaknesses are barely recognizable from the first two movies.

Some necessary progressions; The Bellas are now out of school; the days of Barden University are now replaced by dead-end jobs or lack thereof.

Beca (Anna Kendrick) is dissatisfied by her job as a music producer. So she quits, returning to the apartment she shares with the ever-hilarious Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) — halting her Fat Amy Winehouse career.

Chloe (Brittany Snow) is in the throes of getting into a veterinary school. Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) remains in school, with her academic pursuits turning song writing into a second priority. The days are too mundane and stumped to be a movie plot.

So there’s a solution. Aubrey, in an attempt to reunite with her father who serves in the military, arranges for the defunct Bellas to perform on a United Service Organizations tour.

Traveling through Europe, the tour is packaged as a competition — shared by a brilliantly named rock band Evermoist, a bluegrass band Saddle Up and the duo Young Sparrow & DJ Dragon Nutz — where the winner gets to be DJ Khaled’s concert opener.

Pitch Perfect 3, while juggling these plots and shenanigans, traffics in instant gratification.

Think one-liners — “Beyoncé’s not Jewish,” — and the incessant callbacks. The movie’s stronger moments come when its fervor for camp takes control of the movie. Fat Amy’s father, Fergus (John Lithgow), suspiciously inserts himself back into her accepting hands. I do not want to go deeper into this, but I will say there’s a scene where Fat Amy uses sausages as nunchucks to beat the crap out of a henchman. And it’s hysterical.

It is also unfortunate that some versions of this camp are just clichés that serve as an excuse for continuation — they make the series feel stretched out. When there are bees in a room, you know they’re going to be released in some twisted way. 

When there’s a casino, the bad guy will show up. There’s a certain drill in Pitch Perfect 3 that seems heavily phoned-in.

Above all, there’s the music. It never fails me to hear the Bellas’ synchronized voices.

The signature riff-offs return, a variety of rock, bluegrass and hip-hop is introduced. Though suffering from a brittle plot, the movie is still hilarious. It never fails me to see the Bellas open their mouths, singing their farewell.

Pitch Perfect 3

Production house:
 Gold Circle Films, Marc Platt Productions and Brownstone Productions

Running time: 93 minutes

Director: Trish Sie

Writer: Kay Cannon, Mike White

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Hana Mae Lee, Alexis Knapp, DJ Khaled, John Michael Higgins.