Right up front I feel I must say that I am the target audience for the Pitch Perfect movies. I love a cappella and I love movies with singing. Feel free to take anything that comes next with that context in mind.
There was not a lot to expand this franchise on after Pitch Perfect 2, so I was definitely a little nervous about where this was going. This time around our Barden Bellas are no longer in college, and are doing about as well as the average post-college liberal arts student is doing these days (not quite finding their dream job right out of the University gate). Becca (Anna Kendrick) has just quite her job as a music producer, and her roommate Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) has never actually had a job. When they’re mistakenly asked to perform at a reunion (they were asked to come to a concert, not to sing), they realize that they still really want to be singing together. Fortunately, Aubrey (Anna Camp) has a connection to get them on a USO tour performing for the troops, so Bellas reunite once again and head to Europe.
On the tour there’s a contest to see who will get to perform the final night with DJ Khaled, so the stakes are raised. However, the other groups on the tour have the clear advantage of instruments. Of course, there are plenty of jokes made at the Bellas’ expense, which are perfect and totally expected. An impromptu “riff-off” is funny, but mostly in a laughing at them kind of way. While on tour there are hunky military officers, members of other groups to flirt with, and an appearance by Fat Amy’s father, Fergus (John Lithgow with a brilliant Australian accent), an international thief.
Because this is the third time with these characters, they take all the leeway allowed in terms of adding a little international espionage to the joy of a cappella concerts for the military. Thankfully, we know these characters and their place in the world of coolness; judging them, or this movie, by any standard other than “fun” is a waste of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek jokes, and under-their-breath trash talking, as well as the new songs and arrangements. It’s not as good as the original, but takes a different enough turn to provide some original life to the party.