Hey, I’m no movie snob. I love some independent movies, and I favour character-driven stories over soulless plot-driven crap, but I’m not THAT guy at the party who only talks about that Chechnian 30 minute short about life on a pig farm as if it was the greatest piece of cinema in history. Despite my feeling that both Captain Fantastic and A Ghost Story are going to chart really high on my 2017 Best Of list, I remain a huge fan of populist movies. Pitch Perfect 3 is not one of them.
I was overruled on Christmas Day movie choice – the last couple of years I picked The Force Awakens and Rogue One, but this year, not my choice. If that sounds like a disclaimer, maybe it is: I wouldn’t have picked Pitch Perfect 3 on any day. Comedy is the one genre I absolutely have to be in the mood for, which is weird, as it’s probably the go-to genre for most people. There was also the fact that I hadn’t seen either of the first two, beyond 30 minutes or so of the first one.
As it turns out, not seeing either of the movies likely didn’t affect my watching of the latest entry in the franchise, because less than five minutes in, I caught whiff of a stinker, five minutes later, I knew I wasn’t wrong. Pitch Perfect 3 is one of the worst movies of the year.
This is one of the most egregious examples of sequel-itis I can think of. Sure, movies are prime fodder for The Law Of Diminishing Returns, but when it’s obvious that nobody involved in the production side of things cared one bit, it annoys the hell out of me. This disaster is almost plotless, but here’s what you get: The Bellas (the A Capella girl group of the franchise) are on the verge of wrapping up their thing, ready to hit the boring adult world of careers and grown up lives when they they decide to give it one last shot on the US Military’s USO tour. Conveniently enough, ditzy blonde Aubrey’s father happens to be a high ranking officer who can get them a spot on the tour. I bet this connection was never mentioned in the other movies. Convenience is the word of the day here, because even though most of the Bellas are already leading grown up lives, all of them but one are seemingly able to easily drop what they’re doing in order to head to Europe in short order. Anna Kendrick’s Beca (the cool one, at some point in the past) quit her job, but I assume she still has other obligations … or not … ?). Upon arriving on foreign soil, they find that there is some kind of competition – in keeping with the basic plot of the prior movies. Covering all the bases, there is a shitty country band, a shitty hip hop act, and a shitty Grrl band. All three team up to perform a shitty medley of songs to condescendingly put the clearly much more talented Bellas in their place. This is utterly horrendous, made even worse by the fact that there’s no real attempt by the filmmakers to distract the audience from seeing the shitty lip-syncing all round. They discover that the entire USO tour is a competition, being judged from thr sidelines by DJ Khaled and his entourage. The winner will open for him on his upcoming tour. I knew somewhere in a the dark recesses of my consciousness that DJ Khaled is a real person (he’s going to be one of the “judges” on the new “talent” show The
Voice Four), but is he really that much of a talentless oaf in real life? Anyhow, that’s the main plot. The secondary plot involves Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) bumping into her father (a wretched effort by John Lithgow) only to discover it’s part of a dastardly plot. There’s also a subplot featuring Beca being the subject of a crush by Khaled’s road manager Theo, a guy (literally, the actor’s name is Guy) who looks so much like Adam Scott you wonder why they didn’t just hire Adam Scott. This subplot … did you ever get a chemistry set for Christmas, and spend time mixing up a bunch of chemicals only to find nothing much happens? This is exactly the reaction that fizzles between Beca and Theo. Like everything else in the movie, all it does is waste some more of the precious time you have left on the planet. Another thing about this movie – it also features all the songs I hate.
As you’ve gathered by now, I have nothing but contempt for this piece of drivel. I can’t possibly blame the actors for anything other than agreeing to make the movie if they’d read the script beforehand, and I liked both Kendrick and Brittany Snow, who plays Chloe, but only because they’re cute and I’m a guy. Whatever charm may have been possessed by Rebel Wilson at one point surely has evaporated. There’s literally nothing funny about her deadpan sarcasm, though if her performance was partially improvised those are the only parts of her screen time that actually work.
The story is utterly garbage, something that might come up among a group of Pitch Perfect fan-fictioners (if such a thing exists – I wouldn’t doubt it if I were you). About halfway in, you sort of realize that the main plot of the competition has just kind of, well, melted away. None of the three acts from the opening spot on the tour have any affect on the movie whatsoever. What replaces it is the Fat Amy and Dad subplot, which at least has an actual conflict to revolve around – though in saying that, it’s supremely lazy and mostly dreadfully inept. The true villains of this movie are the “writers” Kay Cannon who turned in a real piece of crap, and Mike White, whose rewrite was somehow equally bad, and producers Elizabeth Banks (yep), Paul Brooks, and Max Handelmann for either being too stupid to know what a bad script reads like, or cynically assumed the audience was a lock, so why bother commissioning another rewrite from an actual writer? It’s absolutely worth mentioning that as terrible as this movie is, the actual worst parts are those featuring the recurring characters played by both Banks and John Michael Higgins. It’s like drinking a bottle of Drano and finding out it’s been spiked with arsenic.
Nobody comes out of this movie unscathed, including the audience.
© Andrew Hope, 2017