Pitch Perfect 3, C-
Rated PG-13, 94 minutes
The likable but flat "Pitch Perfect 3" proves that the third time is not always the charm. In spite of some upbeat tunes and the always rascally Rebel Wilson, who has the movie's most fun moments, this is a woefully thin excuse to get the pitches together for one last tour.
After the highs of winning the world championships, the Bellas (led by Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick and Wilson) find themselves split apart and discovering there aren't many solid job prospects for singing a cappella cover tunes. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time.
The stale "Pitch Perfect 3" lacks fresh energy (none of the original guys, including Tony Award winner Ben Platt, appear in this outing) and is the weakest film in the a cappella franchise, hitting some sour notes with some lazy, ridiculous storytelling. It's directed by "Step Up: All In's" Trish Sie and is co-written by Kay Cannon, who wrote the previous films, and comedian Mike White of TV's "Enlightened." The charming cast seems to enjoy working together, but they can't save the silly story, in which the Bellas hit the road for a USO tour with DJ Khaled (playing himself here).
Unfortunately, there isn't much for the girls to do that's new or exciting. They've graduated college. They're hit in the real world in jobs they don't like, which is pretty much like the rest of us. All of it seems like a big stretch, especially one subplot that's really hard to buy into, when Amy's criminal father, played by a terribly miscast Emmy-winner John Lithgow, wasted here and slumming it again (he's in the recent "Daddy's Home 2") after doing such great work in TV's "The Crown." Lithgow's awful Australian accent, which comes and goes, is as annoying and distracting as Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, back again to make snarky, sexist comments on the proceedings.
It all makes "Pitch Perfect 3" seem so unnecessary, and to no surprise, the best part about it is the a cappella cover tunes, including everything from Britney Spears to Sia to George Michael's "Freedom," featured as one of the final tunes the Bellas sing together. The lovely Kendrick and the delightful Wilson do their best to hold it together, especially Wilson, whose shtick steals the movie ("I need to learn to open my mail!" when learning she's come into some funds) and could easily find itself in a Fat Amy spinoff, which would be much more fun than than this insipid offering.
"Pitch Perfect 3" should've gone out on a high note, but it's mostly just a forgettable one. Buy the soundtrack and go watch the first film, which is still the best in this series.