Awards season is filled with a lot of complex, thought-provoking stuff that represents your cinematic meat and potatoes, with a side of veggies. Pitch Perfect 3 is your fluffy dessert. A simple treat that goes down easy but should be consumed in moderation. It’s not nearly as good as the refreshingly original Pitch Perfect (2012) or its entertaining sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015). But it is good enough to satisfy the fan base (you know who you are, pitches). At this point, the law of diminishing returns has definitely nibbled away at the comedy/music franchise. But there’s room for replenishment and redemption because the main characters are still fun to watch, and the music is still fun to hear. In other words, despite PP3 being marketed as the Bellas’ “Farewell Tour,” there will surely be a PP4 ‘Comeback Tour’.

Here’s the gist of PP3: The glory days are over for the world champion a capella misfits, the Bellas. They’ve graduated from Barden University and moved on with their lives. Not so successfully. When they get the chance to reunite for a singing competition – as part of a USO tour overseas – the ladies jump at the chance to turn the beat around one last time. The trouble is, they are up against real bands – with instruments and everything!

There’s more to the plot, but it’s paper-thin, bordering on preposterous – from how they land a spot on the USO tour to begin with (one of the Bellas’ dads is a high-ranking military official), to a contrived kidnapping and explosion on a yacht that has the Bellas charting a course for a Charlie’s Angels skit. But who really cares? Ultimately it’s about the music, and the sisterhood – with the uber-talented Beca (Anna Kendrick) and comically-inappropriate Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) at the center of all the action. The rest of the cast (including Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, and Hailee Steinfeld) is just there to support the physical-comedy bits, ditzy one-liners and infectious singing montages in various cute outfits. Some new pretty boys are on hand as potential romantic interests for the Bellas. John Lithgow shows up in a campy role as Fat Amy’s long-lost con artist father. And Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins reprise their roles as color commentators Gail and John, now filmmakers gathering footage for an exclusive documentary about the Bellas. Their talents are completely wasted here. But perhaps the documentary thread can be explored (or exploited) for a future installment of the franchise. In the meantime, Merry Pitchmas, Pitches. Enjoy the show.

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