Pitch Perfect 3 review

Pitch Perfect 3 suffers from the law of diminishing returns - a terrific first outing followed by a so-so sequel and a third in the series where the participants seem to be just going through the motions. In many ways it feels like this is merely a tribute band covering Pitch Perfect's greatest hits.

Aftar an action-film style opening that sees the Bellas escaping from an exploding yacht, we flash back to three weeks earlier and learn that the members of the group have graduated from college and gone their separate ways, the girls now all leading rather ordinary, boring lives. But when the Bellas are offered the chance to reform for a USO tour of Europe, the girls pack their bags and head for the airport – joined by Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who is the head of the new Barden Bellas at college. But when they arrive at the military base they discover that there's a catch – they have to compete with several other bands on the tour for a chance to open for DJ Khaled.

Director Trish Sie makes a valient effort, but she doesn't have a lot to work with here. As with the previous two films the song and dance numbers are wonderful – yes, these ladies can sing. But the plot interweaving the musical breakouts is dull, derivative and somewhat ridiculous. And don't get me started on the simply awful excuse for an Australian accent put on by the usually reliable John Lithgow as Fat Amy's estranged father, Fergus. But attempts at drama and action move the film away from this series' comedy roots and derail what could have been a worthy farewell for the gang.

There are a few enjoyable moments in Pitch Perfect 3, but they all revolve around the musical numbers (and Ruby Rose as Calamity, lead singer of the all-female rock group Evermoist is particularly good). And Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins reprise their snarky commentating duo roles, but this time they are following the Bellas around to film a documentary; it's all a bit pointless and a real waste of their talents. As you'd expect, Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson are as great as ever, but they are hampered by a poor script that seems to have cast aside what made the first two films so good. Pitch Perfect 3 is really only for the hardcore fans.

EXTRAS: The film may not be all that much, but there are loads of bonus features, kicking off with not one, but TWO Audio Commentaries: the first with Director Trish Sie, and the second with Producers Paul Brooks and Max Handelman. The rest of the supplements consist of: a Gag Reel (3:22); New Musical Performances, which has the Fat Amy & Fergus Casino Duet (2:38) and The Bellas "See You Smile" Lullaby (1:45); Extended Musical Performances, consisting of Evermoist "How A Heart Unbreaks" (3:55), Young Sparrow/DJ Dragon Nuts "You Got It" (1:56) and Saddle Up "Ex's and Ohs" (2:59); a Deleted Scene (1:01) the featurette Competition Crescendo (6:37); which takes a closer look at the bands in the film; the featurette A Cappella Action (3:15); the featurette The Women of Pitch Perfect 3 (4:21); the featurette Don't Mess with Rebel (4:27); the featurette The Headliner: DJ Khaled (3:01); the featurette The Final Note: John and Gail (2:22); the featurette Just Because He's a Bad Guy... (1:54); a look at John Lithgow's villain character (but no apology for that offensively bad Aussie accent); the featurette The Final Performance (4:30), a look at the making of the final musical number; the Music Video "Freedom! '90 X Cups" (2:36); and the featurette Hollywood of the South (2:28), a look at the film's shoot in Atlanta.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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