Review by Jacquelin Hipes
In their last outing together, the girls of the Barden Bellas get a generally satisfactory ending. Pitch Perfect 3 doubles down on what works best in the series—musical numbers and Rebel Wilson’s antics—while trimming away most of the fat. We catch up with the former Bellas discovering that post-collegiate life doesn’t compare to the thrill of a World Championship win: Beca (Anna Kendrick) works as a music producer for less-than-stellar artists, Chloe (Brittany Snow) hasn’t gotten into vet school yet, and all the other girls feel stuck at the beginning of a very long road through adulthood. But there’s always one last chance to sing together. Through Aubrey’s (Anna Camp) military dad, the Bellas get invited on an overseas USO tour hosted by DJ Khaled.
If the whole setup sounds a little too convenient, don’t worry. All the logistics are breezed through and the Bellas are having a riff-off with their touring partners in no time. Why do they need another riff-off? Because the USO tour isn’t just a goodwill effort for the troops; it’s also a competition to determine who will open for Khaled. This battle of the bands takes a backburner to the real villain, however, who materializes in the form of Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) criminal father, played by John Lithgow. The added twist of criminal hijinks means this is the most action-filled Pitch Perfect film, although the stunts are mostly played for laughs.
There’s nothing new to be found in Pitch Perfect 3, but there’s enough of what made the original so successful to satisfy established fans. All the musical numbers (and there are plenty, from the Bellas and their tour-mates) are toe-tappingly catchy. Rebel Wilson steals the comedic spotlight, but there are enough one-liners to go around. Doubling down on her adorkability, Kendrick stays as charmingly relatable as she was in college. Commenting duo Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins just won’t go away, unfortunately for the Bellas and the audience alike. Their satirical sexism wore out its welcome a movie ago and the jokes haven’t improved since.
No matter your favorite Bella, everyone gets to tie a bow on their own little arc. Even Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who isn’t actually done with college or acapella, avoids any suggestion of yet another sequel, and recurring background Bellas Jessica (Kelley Jakle) and Ashley (Shelley Ragner) get a couple of moments all to themselves. There’s even a surprise or two to be found in the denouement (one involving Hana Mae Lee’s Lilly earned a roomful of gasps), but ultimately Pitch Perfect 3 gives us no more or less than what we’ve come to expect from the series. While it may not hit all the high notes, it doles out exactly what fans have come to love about their favorite aca-nerds.