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Guilty Pleasures: Pitch Perfect 3 

When? 2017

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it available? Amazon Prime, YouTube, Redbox

click to enlarge BELLAS OF THE BALL The Barden Bellas return in Pitch Perfect 3, which follows the now-graduated college a capella show choir on a USO tour across Europe. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • BELLAS OF THE BALL The Barden Bellas return in Pitch Perfect 3, which follows the now-graduated college a capella show choir on a USO tour across Europe.

I'm going to be completely honest: I didn't even know Pitch Perfect 3 was a thing.

My wife and I saw the original Pitch Perfect (2012) on DVD, which won us over with its comedy-first approach to collegiate a capella through the Barden Bellas, a ragtag group of young ladies more obsessed with a capella performance than those annoying kids from Glee! As musicians, we enjoyed the goof on the show choir/competition movie genre. Written mostly by Kay Cannon (30 Rock), the tongue-in-cheek playfulness shows that filmmakers aren't taking things too seriously, but the franchise still managed to launch a few careers along the way.

Anna Kendrick (Twilight, Life After Beth) takes the lead as Beca, the angsty music producer who came out of her shell to join the Bellas. But Kendrick wasn't alone, as Australian actress Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Struck By Lighting) rose to fame in the U.S. after her performance as Fat Amy, the powerhouse singer and fat-joke slinger extraordinaire.

The rest of the Bellas, unfortunately, are either cookie cutter bombshells with predictable problems (daddy issues, boys, etc.) like Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow), or they're basically boiled down to a gimmick. This is definitely true of the women of color in the Bellas, like Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean), whose character is also a lesbian. That's just about all there is to the character, which is a bit sad considering Dean is actually a singer, songwriter, and record producer in real life.

In Pitch Perfect 3, the Bellas agree to reunite for a USO tour, sharing the stage with three other bands. The Bellas bring their collegiate competitiveness to the tour, challenging the bands to a "riff-off" only to get totally shown up by the groups that can not only sing a capella like them, but can overwhelm their voices with their amplified instruments. This causes the Bellas as a whole, and individually, to question everything about themselves and want to give up.

If it sounds like the previous Pitch Perfect plotlines, it's because it is. Some characters have their old issues rehashed. For characters like Beca and Chloe, their love interests from previous movies were just written out, but that's fine because there are new boy toys for the Bellas to ogle! USO tour, you say? Men in uniform, you say?

All along the way they're followed by Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins), the hilarious duo who did the competition commentary in the previous movies, and are now shooting a documentary about the Bellas. Banks also directed the second and third installments of the films, preserving the identity of the first while goofing on its own tropes at the same time.

The best thing about Pitch Perfect 3 is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, whether it's adding Fat Amy's estranged and nefarious father (an Aussie-accented John Lithgow) just so the Bellas can have an explosive action movie moment, or the totally unnecessary DJ Khaled cameo. And like any good film series, the franchise ends with a fitting sendoff that's obviously fun for the characters, actors, and audience alike. Δ

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