Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
★ / ★★★★
If you wish to watch a hodgepodge of scenes that are supposed to be funny but are actually not for anybody with more than ten functional brain cells then go ahead and watch “Pitch Perfect 3,” inarguably the lowest point of a series that began with great promise since the first film had something genuine to say about being a university student and the road toward one’s more immediate life goals. This installment, however, is a trial to sit through as nearly each passing second barrages the audience with overly produced and commercialized music. And when it isn’t, it forces us to swallow one cheesy exchange right after another about the importance of “sisterhood” and “family” without actually delivering the required substance behind and underneath these ideas. Given that the film is partly aimed toward teenagers, I worry it will cause permanent brain damage. It offers a numbing, cringe-worthy experience.
The Bellas are nearing their thirties but they are stuck with jobs they are either deeply unhappy with or are not passionate about in the least. While this element has the potential to grow into a strong statement about our generation, it is always played for laughs. Had the screenplay by Kay Cannon and Mike White been more intelligent or ambitious or connected to the generation it attempts to laugh at, it would have dared to touch upon the reality numerous millennials face in today’s job market and economy—while still having fun with or poking fun of the characters because, let’s face it, not at all of them are as motivated to work for what they hope to achieve. Instead, one gets the impression that the material is looking down on non-ideal jobs that the characters are a part of. I found it gross due to its lack of sympathy, especially because part of the target audience is millennials.
The way the music is mixed and executed is an irritation to the eardrums. We know that performers in musicals are lip-synching, but the best of the genre work in such a way that they create a most convincing illusion that actors are actually singing on the spot. There is a simplicity and humility to it. Here, however, since the music is produced in a manner that nearly every element is amplified to such an extreme, certainly bombastic, it drowns the performance. Thus, not even a thin veil of believability can be felt on screen. We might as well be watching actors singing badly in a music studio and the process of their recorded voices being manipulated. Come to think of it, a behind-the-scenes look might have been a better movie.
The story takes place all over Europe and yet we never get a chance to appreciate each locale. For instance, there is a sameness to the look of Italy, Spain, and France—amazing because these are beautiful countries with rich histories. If it weren’t for the dialogue that overtly says where the characters are, I would have guessed they were staying in one country throughout the film. There is no flavor, no allure, not even a hint of culture outside of awful stereotypes. Clearly, it is not a musical-comedy for smart, cultured people who are living in the twenty-first century.
Plenty of deadly dull subplots are thrown at the wall. Particularly painful is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) being stalked by her father (John Lithgrow) across the continent. Here is a woman who clearly has abandonment issues and yet the film is so afraid to get serious once in a while and reach toward the audience. “Pitch Perfect 3,” directed by Trish Sie, gets nearly moving part wrong. I had a feeling she has no understanding whatsoever of why the original appealed to so many people, including myself. This project is a betrayal.