Thoughts on Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

Like the name of the antagonist group Evermoist, Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) left me musically aroused yet very unsatisfied (I hope that doesn’t sound too creepy). The musical numbers are pretty good, generally speaking, but the choreography is wasted due to the fact that there are so. many. cuts. in. each. number. I want to see what the dances actually look like, not just a face here and a butt there, interspersed with frontal extreme long shots so far away I can’t make anything out. And that’s just the biggest problem.

Pitch Perfect (2012) laid down a formula that was pretty closely hewed to in Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), but with the addition of instruments in this film, the formula feels extremely forced, which I guess could be seen as a wake-up call to the Bellas to wake up and live life beyond a capella. Glaringest example: The riff-off is quite good, with the other groups displaying unheralded a capella chops—until it suddenly goes south with the Bellas accusing the others, who have never done it before and haven’t actually agreed to anything, of breaking the rules, thereby ruining the mood and the scene. Another instance: The films all end on a note of victory-through-inclusion, but here the need for inclusion is artificially generated by separating Beca, while the people who I felt really needed to be included are the other groups, who unfortunately are cast as the antagonists.

Like in the second film, the Bellas’ closing number is upstaged by that of its antagonist (specifically Evermoist); unlike the second film, it has fight scenes starring Rebel Wilson, and they are surprisingly good, not only well-choreographed but also well-shot and -edited. The focused cuts misused on the dance numbers are just what’s needed to punctuate the action, but they’re sorely missing in the Final Destination (2000)-esque hotel room sequence, which basically coasts by on the apiary-as-Chekhov’s-gun. Very much including the out-of-left-field subplot, this film follows the time-honored tradition of skimping on plot, but at least the first film, like God Help the Girl (2014), had thematic coherence. If this film has a theme, it’s probably “awkward too much information delivered deadpan.”

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