Director: Trish Sie
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Hailee Steinfeld
Running Time: 93 Minutes
The world deserves a sequel to Spy, Paul Feig's 2015 espionage spoof starring Melissa McCarthy. But Pitch Perfect 3 isn't it, and I have no idea why they would even try to be.
A good third of this brief movie is devoted to Fat Amy's (Rebel Wilson) reunion with her heretofore unseen father (John Lithgow), a wealthy con man sporting an absolutely dreadful Australian accent. (Why they couldn't have just gotten Bryan Brown for this role, which he would have nailed, is another confounding mystery.) He's after her (again, previously unknown) trust fund in the Cayman Islands. When she refuses to give him access, knowing he'll abandon her again the second he's made his withdrawal, he kidnaps the rest of the Bellas and holds them for ransom.
But let's back up. How did we even get here? Much like the ripped bros of Magic Mike XXL, the former Bellas are a bunch of sad-sacks desperate to relive their glory days by going on one last tour before separating again. Through some connections in Aubrey's (Anna Camp) family, the Bellas (minus Stacie, whose pregnancy storyline is only there for a couple weak jokes and a moment designed to extract tears so blatant I rolled my eyes) join a USO tour of U.S. military bases in Europe, competing with a DJ-rapper combo, a country-pop band and an all-female rock group for a spot opening for DJ Khaled on his next tour.
And good god, is there ever a lot of DJ Khaled. The shameless pitchman and crafter of such all-time party songs as "All I Do Is Win" and this year's "I'm the One" is in this thing way too much, though most of his moments are just cutaways to him reacting to an onstage performance or looking at his phone.
What's disappointing about this outing is that Trish Sie (who stepped in for Elizabeth Banks) is one of the most innovative music video directors of the last decade, yet doesn't bring any of that visual flair to this movie. It's also set in gorgeous European countries, yet almost every scene is confined to drab interiors.
If it sounds like I hate this movie, that's not exactly true. When the film focuses on its basics – the competition, the one-liners and the friendship between the Bellas – it's a fun time. I also appreciated its meta jokes about how no one cares about Ashley (Shelley Regner) and Jessica (Kelley Jakle), and that Beca's a lot less prickly than she was in the first two movies.
There's been a lot of discussion in light of The Last Jedi about how much a franchise should remain faithful to its original film(s) and how much it should try something different. This is one series that didn't need to mix things up. The first film is still such a standout because of its simple story and great performances. Its later films, though still a lot of fun, fail when they get bogged down in subplots and unnecessary celebrity cameos. This is a serviceable farewell for the Bellas, but it could have been a lot better had it stayed true to itself.