Pitch Perfect 3
Directed by: Trish Sie
Written by: Kay Cannon, Mike White
Based on the book by: Mickey Rapkin
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Hana Mae Lee
Review by Stephanie Cooke
I don’t know if it comes as a surprise to those around me that I actually quite enjoyed the original Pitch Perfect. I’ve seen it numerous times (thanks to my friend Amy who was obsessed with it) and I have seen the sequel. I didn’t love the sequel (aka Pitch Perfect 2) so I didn’t have super high hopes for Pitch Perfect 3. It’s honestly pretty shocking to me that we struggle to get films starring women (with women in writing and directing roles too), and yet somehow the Pitch Perfect franchise got not one, but two sequels.
Again… I actually enjoy these films but that’s just baffling to me that in an era where it took decades to get a Wonder Woman movie, the thing we’re getting multiple sequels to is Pitch Perfect.
That aside, does Pitch Perfect 3 hold up against the two films that came before it? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… but let me explain.
The original Pitch Perfect did well because it took something that was already popular thanks to Glee, and made a PG-13 version with women front and center. We knew what acapella was and had gotten familiar with it through the popularity of Ryan Murphy’s brainchild featuring singing high-schoolers. It wasn’t a big leap to make the transition of these singers to college.
Pitch Perfect also worked because Anna Kendrick oozes on-screen charisma and you can’t help but love her and her portrayal of the angsty, but talented Beca.
However, while I liked Pitch Perfect 3 more than I liked Pitch Perfect 2, a lot of what makes the franchise special and fun feels forced here. Anna Kendrick has gotten what she wants and is a music producer but doesn’t want to deal with artists who don’t see her specific vision of what something should be. They do a good job of making us sympathetic to her case, but also… that’s just life, and sometimes you gotta work with annoying, crappy people to build your career. I suppose part of the message could be taken as “Don’t settle for people who don’t know your value!” but yaaaa know.
They give a bigger arc for Rebel Wilson’s character Fat Amy and bring in her father, played by John Lithgow. I would’ve been all for this, but Wilson’s character felt extra self-deprecating in the film. I’m all for body positivity and there were moments where she’s delightfully confident about herself (despite not really having any reason to be), but she tiptoes past the line on being a bully towards the other characters, especially Emily (played by Hailee Steinfeld). They didn’t feel playful or fun; they just feel plain ol’ mean and disrespectful for seemingly no reason. Same with the treatment of the characters Ashley and Jessica. Gail and John step well over that bullying line as well with their jokes not only taking aim at the Barton Bellas but at women in general.
Then there are several gags that have run their course at this point. The most obvious example of this is Aubrey (Anna Camp) constantly finding words to add “aca” to as a prefix. It’s aca-overdone.
All of that aside, it seems like they’ve brought the films to a natural conclusion now and the franchise will rest. I enjoyed the James Bond-esque feel that this film had at times, and honestly? I think I would’ve had more fun watching if it had leaned into it a bit more. Pitch Perfect 3 is definitely more fun than Pitch Perfect 2 but still comes nowhere near the charm and originality of the first.
Pitch Perfect 3 Blu-ray Special Features:
- Competition Crescendo – In this featurette we break down the riff-off scene, starting in pre-production in the recording studio and moving into production. We’ll also discuss the Bellas’ competition: EverMoist, Saddle Up, DJ Young Sparrow and DJ Dragon Nutz.
- Don’t Mess with Rebel – Rebel Wilson trained with stunts coordinator, Jennifer Badger, to prefect her many stunts that we see throughout the film. In this featurette, we’ll catch a glimpse of Rebel’s training and discuss the most bad-ass stunt of all – Rebel taking down four grown men in order to save the Bellas.
- The Headliner: DJ Khaled – We check in with cast and filmmakers to hear their reactions on the music producer/personality being brought on, how he fits into the story and the love he has for the Bellas.
- The Final Note: John and Gail – Everyone’s favorite Talk-a-pella podcasters are back, combining their resources to produce an exclusive d’aca’mentary following the beloved classic Bellas. We discuss their far-fetched endeavor with the cast and filmmakers to better understand our favorite aca-duo.
- Just Because He’s a Bad Guy – The cast and filmmakers were overjoyed to learn that legendary actor, John Lithgow was joining the Pitch Perfect family, and he did not disappoint! In this piece, we’ll witness how Rebel and John are two peas in a pod, making their on-screen chemistry as father and daughter truly sincere.
- “Freedom! ’90 x Cups” Official Music Video
I’d personally leave this as a Netflix (or other streaming service) type of watch, but that’s me. I realize that some people are incredibly endeared to this franchise, but I did feel that it was lacking a lot of things that made it so fun in the first place.
Pitch Perfect 3 is available on Blu-ray and DVD today.