Review / ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ (M) ** and a half

WITH a little luck, this lacklustre film will mark the demise of the “Pitch Perfect” franchise, in which a nonet of American college girls overcomes obstacles beginning in their early university days when they decided to form a group that they call the Bellas, to win competitions for a capella. singing.

Singing is not a competitive sport. Either it strikes a chord of response in listeners’ ears or it doesn’t.

With a long and distinguished history beginning before Chris Columbus persuaded the Queen of Spain to fund his westward voyage, a capella is a specialised branch of singing, originating in small Italian churches that couldn’t afford an organ to accompany the hymns. Specifically, it’s singing without instrumental accompaniment.
Director Trish Sie seems not to have learned that definition or perhaps studio bigwigs may have told her to provide accompaniment whenever the Bellas are performing, which was probably not a bad idea. The girls sound rather ropey at their best. Even percussion, providing a beat for them to march to, doesn’t improve their sound. And when the US Defence Department engages them to entertain troops overseas as a precursor to the a capella world championships (yikes!), flashy staging and locations don’t really cut it.

Nor does a sub-plot in Kay Cannon and Mike White’s screenplay unfolding around Fat Amy whose dad turns up after years without seeing her, ostensibly to renew a shaky relationship but more correctly to bilk Amy of a nine-digit fortune that she never knew she had!

Multi-award-winning John Lithgow is a fine actor but his attempts to deliver an Australian accent are not so much laughable as embarrassing. Plenty of Australian actors might have played the role with greater conviction, probably for less money in return for the exposure. A cynic like me wonders whether studio bigwigs said, use an American and save the trans-Pacific plane fare.

Fat Amy has been the most endearing character throughout the Pitch Perfect franchise and Australian actress Rebel Wilson plays her, well, pitch perfect. Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins reprise their roles as TV reporters whose only apparent function is to rubbish the Bellas on air and get embarrassed in the last reel when they win.

At all cinemas

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