Pitch Perfect 3 Does Not Ruin the Entire Franchise


     In 2012, “Pitch Perfect” convinced us that college would be four years of lifetime BFFs and a cappella sing-along shenanigans. And we loved it!

     But then this fun-filled musical comedy became a trilogy, and I lost interest.

     It’s not that I dislike the “Pitch Perfect” franchise; on the contrary, the first movie was awesome. The story of freshman Beca and her initiation into the Barden Bellas, her college’s all-girl a cappella group, excited audiences and poked fun at college competition. It also introduced a cappella as a legitimate form of pop music, giving way to the rise of groups like Pentatonix in mainstream music.  

     Three years later, “Pitch Perfect 2” hit box offices and became the highest-grossing musical comedy of all time. (It also featured a scene with the Green Bay Packers, for some reason, but these football stars are pretty impressive singers, so we didn’t question it.) Though it had lost some of the charm of the first movie, this sequel held its own.

     Both movies had sweet themes of determination and friendship, not to mention amazing a cappella soundtracks and a powerful female cast including Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Hailee Steinfeld.   

     Yet when previews for “Pitch Perfect 3” first appeared, I admit my first thought was, “Not this again.” The second installment had been all right, but it pales in comparison to the first. I feared a third movie would fail in its attempt to revisit a premise that was already losing its appeal.

     I was right to be nervous. Set three years after they’ve graduated, “Pitch Perfect 3” sees the Bellas reunited and competing against music groups that use instruments. There’s a crime lord, an explosion, and DJ Khaled. Yes, you read that right.     

     Some might say that the franchise has jumped the shark. It is a bit strange that a story that started with some sweet tunes and jokes about college life has progressed to include action scenes comparable to those of Tom Cruise movies—although the “Pitch Perfect 3” yacht explosion scene has an a cappella version of “Toxic” by Britney Spears as its background song, which makes it cooler than anything Tom Cruise has ever done.

     Honestly, though, the biggest disappointment was the absence of the Treblemakers. Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, and Ben Platt, who played the love interests of Barden Bellas in the first two movies, were conspicuously missing from this installment. When asked about this choice, director Trish Sie put the focus back on the leading ladies.  

     “I think the main purpose was these girls are moving on with their life,” Sie said. “We wanted it to be about them and their independence and finding their way in the world and moving ahead alone.” (The full interview can be found at hollywoodreporter.com.)

     I’ll admit that the girl power is pretty amazing, but I still wish the Treblemakers had made an appearance, if only for the pure comedic power of Adam Devine. However, the movie isn’t lacking for cool side characters. John Lithgow stars as the movie’s antagonist, and Ruby Rose shines as the leading member of a competing band.

     And there’s no way around it – the soundtrack rocks. Covering everything from Christmas favorites to Flo Rida, the music, both a cappella and instrumental, features amazing vocals and harmonies.  

     All in all, “Pitch Perfect 3” is kind of weird, but arguably worth the watch. While the action scenes are definitely a stretch, there are some comical moments as the Bellas fight the bad guys. A few empowering conversations about finding oneself are sprinkled in, and the happily-ever-after ending is a sweet finale. But a bad story is a bad story, and no amount of a cappella awesomeness can fix a far-fetched plot.

     The movie doesn’t ruin the franchise, but let’s agree to stop at a trilogy.