To use a musical term the Bellas would understand, “Pitch Perfect 3” is a diminished third. Set three years after “Pitch Perfect 2,” it has Beca (Anna Kendrick), Amy (Rebel Wilson), and the rest (the movie is not interested in the rest but here they are) working various unfulfilling jobs and missing their a cappella days. Then Aubrey (Anna Camp) announces that her neglectful Army father has enough clout to get his daughter’s defunct college a cappella group that hasn’t performed together in three years a spot on the USO tour, no questions asked, which could lead to a gig opening for the famed DJ Khaled (DJ Khaled, a real person).
So the original Bellas, minus one of them who’s home pregnant but plus new Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) from the last movie, go to Spain, Italy, and France to flirt with soldiers and have “riff-offs” with their USO tourmates — country band Saddle Up and all-female rock band Evermoist — with whom they are competing for DJ Khaled’s blessing. Meanwhile, Amy’s own absentee father, disreputable Fergus (John Lithgow), shows up on the tour to bug her for access to her trust fund.
Franchise creator Kay Cannon returns to co-write the screenplay with Mike White (who had a big year himself, writing and directing “Brad’s Status,” writing “Beatriz at Home,” and co-writing “The Emoji Movie”), with Trish Sie (“Step Up All In”) as director. But whatever passion Cannon once had for the lives and loves of the Bellas seems to have faded. Part 3 is clumsily plotted and full of awkward expository dialogue, leaving only the musical moments to provide diversion (which they do well). Beca and Amy are the only ones given anything to do; the rest are just along for the ride and are, except for the one who talks really quietly, interchangeable. It ends like the series finale of a sitcom that ran two seasons too long, with everyone getting a new job or life path, well on their way to living happily ever after. Let’s all move on to other things, shall we?
C (1 hr., 33 min.; )