Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: "Pitch Perfect 3" is a rousing third entry in the franchise.

Pitch Perfect 3 Review
When reflecting upon the "Pitch Perfect" movies, I am sometimes perplexed that they even worked at all. "Glee" was a show on TV that I initially liked, but it was a show that gradually wore out it's welcome. "Pitch Perfect" just looked like a new incarnation of "Glee." A bunch of pretty people singing songs that were already famous while spouting cheesy one-liners? How was that any different from what I had already seen? I skipped the film in theaters entirely that year. I made leaps and bounds to not see the movie at all. Then by what seemed like fate, I ended up seeing the first movie. I couldn't believe how well drawn the characters were, I can't believe the emotions emitted in the film. I couldn't believe how all of it mattered so much.

 I did like "Pitch Perfect 2," but that movie had some of the same problems that plague most sequels: its a sequel. "Pitch Perfect 2" is essentially the same movie as the first film, but just bigger. Plus, the sequel wanted so bad to have a happy ending that it never reaches a realistic or logical conclusion. I have problems with the second film, even though I do enjoy it.

I had slightly altered expectations going into "Pitch Perfect 3." I figured by this third film, this story would have worn out its welcome, just like all those needless seasons of "Glee." As I sat down in the auditorium for this third entry, I figured I would just get a third session of the same thing. I was ready to feel bored that all of these talented actresses would get together to do something they've already covered better in previous movies. 

Yes, there is a singing competition in the film. Yes, the Bellas sing songs that were already made famous by previous artists. But honestly, that is pretty much where the similarities end. All the Bellas are very different people at the beginning of this movie, and as the film ends, they are different people once again. All our favorite Bellas are out of college now, trying desperately to adjust to the real world, wanting badly to cut out a piece of this real world that they can call their own. But they're having trouble and they are suffering from missing the world they use to occupy, the world of the Bellas. What seems like chance, the Bellas get together for a girls night and Aubrey (Anna Camp) suggests that the ex-Bellas go on a USO tour. What the girls don't know is that DJ Khaled is hosting the event, and there is a competition brewing between four bands, whomever DJ Khaled likes the most will open his shows during his tours.

Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), Cynthia (Ester Dean), Lily (Hana Mae Lee), Stacie (Alexis Knapp) and the other Bellas get together for the singing USO tour. Yes, there are traditional moments which have occurred in the previous movies, but they feel so ingrained in this franchise that it doesn't necessarily feel like treading water. Plus, its all fun. The "riff-off" in this film is quite frankly the best riff-off in any of the films so far. But as far as the film as a whole goes, it never quite replicates the other films bit by bit. There are some genuine surprises in this film. Suddenly, the movie shifts from being about another singing competition for these girls and becomes more about how these girls have changed, how they miss each other, and how they will always be friends even if they never sing as Bellas again. Sure, these are themes we have seen in other films, but this is a genuine progression in character development and its hard not to realize it matters.

I will even go as far to say that I can relate to the situation presented in the film. There was a time in my life, not all that long ago, where I felt like I was going through a quarter-life crisis. The life I lead after college was not the life I expected to lead out of it. It depressed me that I was nowhere near where I expected to be in the years after college, while it felt like all my peers had massive success around me. I missed college, moreso than I probably should have. I struggled adjusting to the life outside of college. I can honestly say that I am past that part of my life, because what I have now may not be what I expected, but its certainly what I needed now. Things can never go back to the way they were, and life isn't a race. Watching these girls come to terms with those facts made this entire experience highly emotional.

Yes, there are surprises in the movie, but I can't honestly say that they all land. There is a semi-ridiculous subplot about Fat Amy's father (John Lithgow) being a shady criminal all of Amy's life. When Amy's father comes for the inheritance that her mother left her, he ends up kidnapping the other Bellas for the money. The movie shifts into James Bond territory, and for a little while, it feels like a totally different movie. It doesn't derail the picture, its just an outlandish subplot to include.

Overall, the completely different plot is what won me over. This isn't the typical sequel. With what the film says and how its says it, I couldn't believe how much of this story mattered. It helps that the characters are all wonderful creations. It helps that there is further development with all of them. It also helps that the film is just damn entertaining. 

FINAL GRADE: B

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