Third Time is the Semi-Charm: Pitching A Final Shot

Pitch Perfect 3.jpg

 

It started with a song that roped a group together, and it has blown up into one of the most popular comedies to serenade the stage.  The movie is Pitch Perfect and the trilogy comes to a close tonight as the Bellas take center screen once more to sing their “potential” swan song.  After copious media advertisements, does the third installment have the vocal chords to shatter our ear drums in delight?  Or does it fall to bad singing in the shower.  Robbie K here to once again give you his thoughts on a movie.  Let’s go

 

LIKES:

 

Back to its comedic roots: Pitch Perfect has always been globally popular thanks to the comedic antics of the cast at hand (primarily Rebel Wilson). Pitch Perfect 3 returns to those roots and brings back clever writing, inappropriate remarks that are well-timed, and banter that somehow works despite how silly it is.  Much of the overacting from the second film is gone, and it proves that balance and timing go a lot farther than comedic meme stuffing.

 

The Character Development Story: The third installment has a lot going on to wrap up the show, but the story most endearing and true to the series is Beca’s development.  Like the first film, the plot is all about testing Beca again in the qualms of life, choosing which aspects of her life she is to pursue in her road to success and happiness.  While comedic, and a little rushed at times, her growth as a character is touching, blending the painful growing up moments with the emotional zing that hits you in the heart.  This component is by far the most solid ground of the film.

 

The Music: It wouldn’t be a Pitch Perfect without music and this movie comes back in spades with the remixes of a number of songs.  The acapella numbers certainly are the most impressive and energetic of the bunch, though they still lack in regards to choreography, shimmer, and comedy that we have seen in the past.  Additional songs with actual instruments also have a nice twist to the franchise, especially the new riff off scene that is sure to stick in your minds.  For me though, there needed to be more and I missed the competition component of the film, despite how much they made fun of it.

 

The Conclusion: What can I say, I’m a sucker for a solid conclusion, and Pitch Perfect 3 does not disappoint with the final sequence.  It captures the spirit of the girls, brings their relationship to life, and solidly wraps up this journey that has been progressing over seven years.  Does this mean the series has to be rebooted?  No, there are plenty of docks to launch from should, and probably most likely will, Hollywood want to pick it back up.  Nevertheless, count this reviewer happy with the ending of this film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Hosts:  I’ve always loved Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins banter in the films, as the writing is unique, the delivery exaggerated but fun, and the randomness just perfectly timed.  This film though really weakened their characters for me, turning them into annoying, unnecessary extras who seemed forced into the story.  I admit, I chuckled a few times, but the writing was much weaker for me with these characters and it might have been better left out to make room for other plots/characters.

 

The Dropped Characters: The hosts were just the start, as Pitch Perfect’s cast loses a couple of members at the start that I hadn’t expected to see… well dropped.  While I appreciate dropping the crappy romance tales of the second movie, and even seeing the girls grow up, some of the decisions in this movie I didn’t agree with.  Letting these characters fade into the background, started to become plot ploys, that were forced, simplified, detours to unite the gang or quickly fill in gaps.  I guess it’s better than having them just stand in the background, but it’s not much of an improvement to see fan favorites once again become background characters. 

 

The Weak Rivals: I mentioned this earlier, but Pitch Perfect 3 once again makes washed-out rival bands whose potential is sucked dry after one scene. Why? I can’t answer that question, but the three bands that we are introduced have an awesome riff-off and small partial numbers that are the only quality participation on their part.  The promise of combined tracks, duets, and heated rivalry was broken, again letting these characters dropped into annoying story ploys that are more bark than bite.  It does get points for creativity, but not many given what they were substituted for.

 

The Other Parts Of The Story: I love the character development in this arc, but the other plots…not so much.  Pitch Perfect 3 has a boat load of subplots trying to compete for attention.  Sadly, many of these are again rushed messes, trying to give the movie a little bit of everything to please the audiences.  Some cute romances, some “surprise” life events, and some backstories are the more positive of these, but the Fat Amy tale was out of place for me.  I liked learning about her history, but the crime element of it didn’t seem to fit into a music movie, though it certainly agrees with the comedy…primarily pitch perfect 2’s comedy.  These parts weren’t the worst thing mind you, it just felt like too much in one film for me that took up more time.  Time that could have been spent on more musical spunk.

 

The Verdict:

Overall, Pitch Perfect Three is still the fun, girl power film the dedicated fans will enjoy.  The humor has been toned back to Pitch Perfect One level, the numbers are still just as toe-tapping, and there are plots that work so well to wrap everything up in a honorable manner.  Yet, the movie still has trouble with its plot balance, and utilizing its characters to the fullest still eluded them in this film.  I like this one better than 2, but the original still rings the bell as the champion of this series.  Worth a trip to the theaters?  Yeah, I think it is, but there are other options that are probably better.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Music:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

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Revving Up To A Better Story

Cars 3

 

“I am Speed!” A quote that will live on forever in the minds of the 2000 generation, movie quote boards, and the status of Disney fans.  For those not remembering the quote, or not realizing what this review is about, it is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in the famous Cars series.  Pixar’s work about living Cars took the world by storm long ago, but a flat tire left it stranded behind its cousins.  After a detour with the second installment, Cars 3 attempts to change tires and redeem itself on the winner circle.  And it’s my job to commentate and analyze the movie.  Let’s rev up and take off with another Robbie movie review.

 

LIKES:

Animation:  Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar continues to prove they rock at making things move.  Cars 3 is beautifully detailed, stylish, slick, and fluid on all levels from the skidding tires to simply drinking oil at a local garage bar.  Unlike its sequels, the movie really focuses on the fast-paced world of racing, and brings the full effects of Disney animation to life. All the excitement is captivating and exciting, perfect for many audience members of all ages. And with all the new characters plenty of room for merchandising.

 

Soundtrack: Most Disney fans often won’t pay attention unless it is a flashy, over the top musical number famous from the renaissance of the 90s (and Frozen).  Well although not the famous show stopping sequences, Cars 3 has a nice collaboration of song covers to classic songs that is sure to bring up some nostalgia.  While not as good as the originals for me, I enjoyed most of the twists in this movie and felt they were appropriately placed in the film.  Certainly, not the most unique soundtrack, but strong nonetheless.

 

Comedy:  Good news, Cars 3 is still funny, but even more importantly it doesn’t rely on comedy as the only gimmick.  Rather than relying on Mater’s childlike innocence and stupidity, Cars 3 was able to bring some wit to the table and with it some dynamic comedy.  Mater still has some quips to throw into the film, but the rest of the gang has some well-timed jabs that touch on a variety of topics and styles, which again, will hit most members of the audience.

Story: The team must have taken a step back and analyzed the blue prints of their tale.  Cars 3 story is miles above Car2, dropping into the character development and life lessons made famous in the first film.  It is jam packed full of emotion, with gripping tales all coming together into a very compact package. With exciting races built into the story, the movie keeps a nice pace and remains fun to watch while also being educational.  No convoluted tales of quirky action or stretches here folks, it’s just classic country lifestyle.

 

DISLIKES:

Depressing: This really doesn’t reveal anything, but much of this movie is quite depressing.  While there is certainly a broad range of emotions “racing” through this film, I can say a good chunk is spent in the downer zone. While the kids will have a few moments that might upset them, adults are going to really take the blunt of the depression in this movie.  The trailers have already hinted at the message, but they didn’t prepare me for the intensity this movie has at times.  Fortunately, they relieve that melancholy with fun moments, but somehow Pixar keeps that sullen moment in your mind.

 

Old jokes: I told you they did a nice job balancing jokes, but I didn’t say perfect, did I?  Cars 3 gets a little obsessive with one joke category and starts to rely on it a little too much.  These jokes at times is the perfect icing on the cake, but often it goes with that depressing component I told you about.  I found the fun starting to leave and the sadness starting to set on… way to go Pixar, depressing comedy.  Still, your kids will laugh and might pick up a few annoying phrases to throw at you in the process.

 

Characters dropped:  Like many Disney films, the studios find a way to dump on the old to bring in the new. While certainly not the worst example of dropping characters, Cars 3 reduced many of your favorite character to background characters delivering somewhere between 1-5 lines.  So those heavy on Mater, Sally, and the rest of the gang need to lower your expectations, and prepare to fall in love with the new guys on hand.  This disproportion of characters is certainly sad to see, and while I do enjoy many of the new characters, you can’t help but long to have the old and new world blend a little more together.

The VERDICT:

Cars 3 was certainly rebuilt from the wreckage of the last movie.  The animation remains stunning, brought to full throttle with the exciting races thrown into the mix.  Pixar makes the tale funny and with a much deeper, enriching story than number 2.  Unfortunately for the audience above the age of 15, a somber mood hangs over much of this movie and it lacks a good balance of integrating old with the new.   There are some other components I could comment on, but I’m out of room so you’ll have to see for yourself.  Nevertheless, Cars 3 is definitely worth a trip to the theater folks, and probably the leading blockbuster of this weekend’s new releases. 

 

My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0