Pitch Perfect 3 is a wacky, disjointed effort that feels a bit like several spec scripts cobbled together for one last hurrah. Fortunately, it’s a story populated by well-worn characters with performers who carry the day even when the story loses its way. Ostensibly, Pitch Perfect 3 is about the Bellas reuniting for one last competition on a USO tour. It’s also packed with side plots about family and dreams. But mostly, it’s about how friendships change over time. And also fun musical numbers.
The first installment in this unlikely smash franchise soared on musical numbers that are still a surefire way to get your friends singing and dancing on a road trip. Or in the office. Wherever. The second outing enjoyed sharper comedy but failed sonically. The finale manages to find a middle ground, boasting better music selections than its predecessor and the kind of laughs that can only exist among old friends. That’s not to say there aren’t rough patches. John Lithgow as Fat Amy’s criminal father feels utterly out of place and his Australian accent is … not up to exchanging dialogue with actual Australian Rebel Wilson. Though, this ill-advised side plot does create a great excuse for some delightful Fat Amy action comedy antics (yes, I’d watch a movie full of nothing but Fat Amy international hijinks). Then there’s a bunch of new characters from rival bands. Most of them don’t make much of an impression because they aren’t given a lot to do, but Ruby Rose, in particular, seems underused as a sultry mean girl rocker.
Squabbles about plot and story choices aside, Pitch Perfect 3 is quite a lot of fun. The Bellas look like quite a fun group of travel buddies for a European excursion and they drop some fun beats along the way. If it weren’t for quite a lovely thread about friends as the family we choose, that would be all there is to say. But even as we watch Becca come to terms with the new roles her aca-pals will come to occupy in her life, we owe a nod of thanks to director Trish Sie for letting that emotion breathe. This is a brisk film, but it indulges us in several moments of reflection.
While it’s clear that it’s time for this franchise to retire, it’s also clear that Pitch Perfect 3 is the ending this series deserves. It’s fun and funny and sneakily sweet, just like the relationships at its core.