As stated in my review of Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), they should have ended the proceedings before getting to a trilogy. I do not think I am alone in this opinion. Not appearing in Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) is Jesse Swanson (Skylar Astin), main protagonist Beca Mitchell’s (Anna Kendrick) boyfriend in the first two movies. A little research on this subject says something about different directions, tones, blah, blah, blah. It is typical, boilerplate language, the kind of things you hear coaches of professional sports teams say after a tough loss. You know what I mean: we gave it our all but the ball just did not bounce our way. I like to think that it was because the script made little sense, and certain people spotted it. What probably brought the primary characters back for a third one is the camaraderie they all felt for one another. It is an ensemble cast, with Beca leading the way, and making movies are long and involved processes that involve spending a lot of time with your co-workers for the shoot. In such situations, you typically end up hating or loving these people. There does not seem to be an in-between. Even if this film is not the greatest, it does seem as if everyone genuinely liked each other . . . except for the ones who were not invited back, I guess. Awkward. . . .
With Pitch Perfect 3, they decided to open Citizen Kane (1941) style. The familiar faces of the Barden Bellas are performing on an expensive boat for an unseen man. Towards the end of their mini-concert, Patricia “Fat Amy” Hobart (Rebel Wilson) comes crashing through the ceiling. The next thing you know, her and Beca are jumping off the ship as it explodes. Everything in Pitch Perfect 3 is meant to lead up to this moment. So, what have the assorted Bellas been doing since they graduated from Barden University? Settling into a variety of pursuits, apparently, but we will focus on Beca. She quits her dream job at a record label in New York City over laughably intolerable creative differences. Naturally, she is feeling down about her decision, and her roommates attempt to cheer her up. Fat Amy’s assumption that she got fired does not help, but her other former Bella sister, Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow), has just the ticket. I mean that literally because they, along with many of the former Bellas, have been invited by current Barden Bella captain Emily Junk (Hailee Steinfeld), to watch the current group perform. They all dress in their old uniforms thinking they will get a chance to perform, but are denied the chance. Though Emily is apologetic, they all go to a nearby bar to drown their sorrows. That is when their original captain, Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), tells them about an opportunity her father (who is a general in the army) has discussed with her. The United Services Organization (USO) is hosting a tour of military bases overseas, and there is, of course, a musical competition. The winner gets to open for DJ Khaled (as himself). Being a bit worn out from their ordinary lives, particularly Chloe, they all agree to go. When they arrive in Europe where the tour is happening, they find that the other competitors are actual bands that play instruments. So, here is to new challenges, I suppose. As part of the experience, they are all invited to a party hosted by DJ Khaled. On the way to the party, though, Fat Amy is approached to enter a poker tournament, which turns out to be a trick played by her estranged father Fergus Hobart (John Lithgow). The reason for their separation is owing to the fact that he had been an internationally wanted criminal, and Fat Amy did not want any part of that life. Fergus swears he has changed, and spends a lot of time trying to prove this is the case. As for the party, Beca strikes up a relationship with DJ Khaled’s producer, Theo (Guy Burnet), while the rest of the Bellas manage to literally burn down the room in which the revelers are gathered. This does not put them in good stead with DJ Khaled, and the tour is off to a rocky start. With our father and daughter dynamic, Fat Amy begins to warm up to her dad until he reveals that he had deposited $180 million into a bank account in her name, and only she can access it. He wants her to do so, and it is clear that it is the only reason for his presence, and not for the music. Meanwhile, though the Bellas have been performing well, it is Beca alone that DJ Khaled settles on for his opening act, without the rest of the women. She declines at first, but before too long, the Bellas are kidnapped by Fergus’ henchmen in order to pressure Fat Amy. The ones they miss are Beca and Fat Amy, who furtively slips aboard Fergus’ expensive yacht. She gets Beca to have the Bellas perform as she sets up the blast we see at the beginning of the film. When they are all safe, it finally comes out what DJ Khaled has offered. They all encourage Bella to take advantage of this opportunity, and the film closes with her giving the concert, but incorporating the Bellas into the performance anyway. The end credits feature them all moving on with their lives, and hopefully so can the rest of us.
One of the characters I have not discussed in any of these reviews, and Pitch Perfect 3 has been the same so far, is Esther (Hana Mae Lee). Throughout the trilogy, she always spoke in hushed tones, except when she sings. In the few moments when she is given a close-up and you can hear what she is saying, she utters some of the most off-the-wall comments. These are the moments when I laugh the hardest while watching these movies. What I did not like is where her character landed at the end of this one. Once everything is settled, she suddenly speaks out in a clear voice that satan has finally left her, and that her real name is Lilly Onakuramara. This sort of ruined the character for this practicing Catholic, the fact that it had been possession this whole time. I understand that this is played for laughs, but demon possession is no laughing matter. It seems that there have been so many films that deal with this subject that it has become fodder for comedy. The enemy is real, and such an outcome cannot be a good thing. The enemy is also extremely slippery and tricky, and can use all manner of devious ways to ruin our lives. Possession is sort of the nuclear option in the battle for individual souls. Again, I do not feel I am being dramatic. The Catholic Church does not take this lightly, either, and trains only a select few of the most ardent among their priests for the job of being an exorcist. This is why I do not like seeing a joke made of this subject.
Another joke that I do not like that is present in all three, but taken to another level in Pitch Perfect 3 is Fat Amy. Much of the humor surrounding her throughout is basically fat shaming, and that is unfortunate. Admittedly, this is a broader issue than my problem with Lilly’s possession since it is more prevalent in the movies. With these two aspects, I would say that there is no reason to watch this film.