Randy’s Review: ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ and ‘Father Figures’

Thursday, January 11, 2018

This week we’re tackling a couple of films which are leaving theaters, but will soon show up available for rental or purchase. Should you rent then or make that purchase? Well. ...

‘Pitch Perfect 3’

Riff-offs, choreographed battles and hostage rescue

Our favorite acca-ladies are back together for what — based on the road this movie takes — will hopefully be the last of the musically gifted “Pitch Perfect” franchise

“Pitch Perfect 3” finds the Bellas, a cappella singing ensemble three years down the road from the preceding film. All but Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) have graduated and moved on from college into the real world. For Becca (Anna Kendrick), adult life means working as a music producer for the likes of a lame hip-hop artist who doesn’t want her messing with his tracks. She quits her job and returns to her apartment where she finds her roommate Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) lounging about. Chloe (Brittany Snow) returns home and reminds the ladies of their scheduled Bella reunion event that same evening at a local aquarium.

Looking for a distraction, the three former Bellas embrace the opportunity to perform again with the other Bella sisters. However, when they arrive at the event, they quickly realize they were invited to come watch Emily and her new group of Bellas perform before a live audience. Watching the spectacular performance only furthers the ensembles depression as they realize life in the real world isn’t what they were hoping for. They also realize how much they miss taking the stage together. Agreeing they would like the opportunity to perform together one more time, Aubrey (Anna Camp) uses her military father’s position to land The Bellas a spot on a USO tour. The Bellas join a pair of bands and DJ Khaled in Spain. The bands immediately dismiss the vocalists, but the military audiences seem to enjoy the girl group, as does DJ Khaled, who is looking for an opening act for an upcoming show.

The film is not without its romance. Gone is the rival guy band from college. Instead, Chloe catches the eye of Chicago (Matt Lanter), a member of the Army team assigned to security for the Bellas; and DJ Khaled’s producer, Theo (Guy Burnett), is mesmerized by Becca and her musical stylings.

We also learn a bit about Fat Amy. It turns out she ran away from home and her big-scale criminal father Fergus (John Lithgow). When Fergus shows up during the tour seeking to rekindle the relationship with his daughter, she is leery to re-engage as it’s a story she’s heard before. When Fat Amy refuses to comply with her father’s wishes, daddy’s true colors emerge again and the Bellas find themselves as hostages … forcing Fat Amy to channel her inner-Jason Statham to save her friends from certain death.

How do we go from a cappella battles to a Fat Amy “fists of fury” rescue mission of kidnapped Bellas? That’s a great question. And yes, it takes a big left turn from the two previous films which were all about riff-offs, choreographed vocal battles and heated competition. There is plenty of that, don’t you worry — but the whole super action Amy and the rescue mission steer the film into unchartered territory.

Along for the ride, the two a cappella event broadcasters Gail (Elizabeth Banks — who also produced the film) and her misogynist partner John (John Michael Higgins) are filming a documentary of the Bellas fall from grace following their graduation from college. Why? Who knows. The two really have no functional role here, but the way this third film rolls along, plot points really aren’t relevant — and besides they are always good for a few laughs.

Look, I’m not going to tell you I hated it. This is fun. Stupid fun. I mean it really makes no sense, especially when it becomes about hostages and daring Fat Amy rescues, however the music is great. You can’t help but like the Bellas. I miss the back-and-forth between the rival vocal groups at the college and apparently John Lithgow is trying to pad his bank account. If you’re a fan of the first two, there are probably parts of this you will enjoy — the performances especially — but this is a bit of a departure from the original formula.

On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, “Pitch Perfect 3” tops out at 2 1/2 tubs. The music is still fresh, but the bizarre Fat Amy/Daddy storyline and subsequent kidnapping and rescue mission was just too much. Thankfully the Bellas were able to distract the bad guy and his muscle by performing an a cappella number while Fat Amy went all Jackie Chan on everyone. I have to admit, it did bring a smile to my face as I thought to myself, “What am I watching?” MPAA rating: PG-13. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theatres in Spencer.

‘Father Figures’

Laughs are more elusive than daddy

At the wedding of their wild mother, Helen Baxter (Glenn Close), a pair of twin brothers Peter (Ed Helms) and Kyle (Owen Wilson) Reynolds learn the story about their father’s death via colon cancer when they were children was a lie. The truth is, mom really never told them who their real father was because ... well, she doesn’t know.

Those were wild times she explains. Kyle, a Hawaiian beach bum who struck gold when he was picked out by a barbecue sauce company to serve as their logo, and Peter, a proctologist as a tribute to his fantasy father, set out to find out the answer to the question “Who’s your daddy?”

They start with Terry Bradshaw and begin a cross country search — following each lead — and former sexual partner of their mother Helen. And at each turn they find they have the wrong person, but they all remember Helen’s bedroom prowess.

The premise, though not funny to some, certainly seems plausible based on the lifestyle and time frame in which the boy’s mother lived. All is not as it seems, and despite the morally questionable plot — the end is actually an endearing story about what a mother really is to her sons.

As far as the cast goes, you couldn’t ask for much better. Along with Bradshaw, proposed father figures included Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames and J. K. Simmons — all unique characters. Problem is, outside of the interaction with Bradshaw and Rhames as a couple of former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates who both remember Helen fondly, the funny is missing. And this was a movie where the funny was promised in huge doses.

Katt Williams is sold as a hitchhiker the brothers pick up who provides some interesting insight, but the movie just dragged and missed out on great opportunities for laugh moments. Not something you want in a “comedy” which wears on for nearly two hours.

If you didn’t see this in theaters, you didn’t miss anything. And when it comes out on DVD, don’t bother wasting your money. There’s much funnier out there. Disappointing because I was really looking forward to the Helms, Wilson matchup.

On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, “Father Figures,” misfires with 1 1/2 tubs of burned product. Whoever made this one forgot to add a little oil and seasoning to this one. Funny movies need to be at least somewhat funny. And with this cast, there is no excuse for a humorless film, but that’s what we got. No amount of beverage will wash this one out of your mouth. MPAA rating: R. Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theatres in Spencer.