Review of Pitch Perfect 3 by Eliana Levenson
Lacking the authenticity of the first film and missing the quick humor of the second film, Pitch Perfect 3, directed by Trish Sie, struggles to find its narrative footing and falls flat comedically, ending as by far the weakest film in the trilogy. (EML: 3.5/5)
Review by FF2 Associate Eliana M. Levenson
Unlike the original Pitch Perfect, which established distinct characters and a realistic storyline with clear stakes, Pitch Perfect 3 fails to utilize each characters unique voice and is riddled with subplots that detract significantly from the main engine of the film. Three years after their last performance together, the members of the Barden Bellas find themselves unceremoniously thrust into the real world and falling short of the fabulous lives they’d envisioned for themselves. Only “Beca” (Anna Kendrick) is even working in the music industry, as an under appreciated producer whose talent is being cast aside in favor of pleasing primadonna clients.
A meeting with a wannabe rapper becomes the final straw for Beca and she quits her job, unsure what she’ll do next. She returns home where who roommate, “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson) gives her the brash kind of support only Fat Amy can. “Chloe” (Brittany Snow) arrives to remind the girls of the reunion show that evening, which sets the whole plot in motion.
The Bellas arrive at the reunion show only to be told that they haven’t been invited to sing, but rather to just be audience members for the next generation of Bellas. The “old” Bellas watch in dismay as their younger, fresher counterparts put on a hell of a show, only reminding the “old” Bellas of how far they’ve fallen.
At a bar after the show, the “old” Bellas reminisce about the good old days and lament their current lives. “Audrey” (Anna Camp) suggests that her dad could get them into a USO show, since he’s such an army bigshot, and of course, with nothing else in their lives, the Bellas all jump at the chance. That is except for “Stacie” (Alexis Knapp) who surprised the girls with the news that she’s 8 months pregnant. This of course leaves the girls with an opening and a convenient way for the film to include the fresh faced ingenue from the second film, “Emily” (Hailee Steinfeld).
When the Bellas arrive on the base for their USO tour they meet the other bands performing: Evermoist, a rock girl group headed by “Calamity” (Ruby Rose), Saddle Up, a new age country group, and a DJ group. It’s revealed that DJ Khalid will be picking one of the acts at the end of the tour to open for him in a televised special. To try and prove their worthiness, the Bellas challenge the other groups to a riff-off, only to discover just how talented the other groups are, plus they use actual instruments!
From a plot perspective Pitch Perfect 3 is a mess, adding unnecessary side plots like the one with Fat Amy and relying on tired tropes to fill up the rest of the space instead of any actual character work. While the second film had equally shoddy storytelling, it made up for its plot shortcomings with extended comedic sequences & clever jokes, both which are basically missing from Pitch Perfect 3. While one of the film’s scribes, Kay Cannon, wrote on the earlier films, this screenplay is missing the quick wit that has come to be expected within this world.
But most upsetting is the complete elimination of what made the Bellas the “Bellas” in the first place. After two films which showed audiences that what made the Bellas who they were was the ability to adapt to the situation and utilize a members skill set to succeed (Beca’s ear for mashups or Emily’s songwriting) this film utilizes neither. Instead, each musical number except for the riff off is a simple cover with no bells and whistles and the plot centers around a bizarre storyline with Fat Amy and her father (John Lithgow) rather than the Bellas as a musical group. It’s hard to root for the Bellas when they are genuinely less talented than the other groups and all they are bringing to the table to try and show “who they are” is deciding to enjoy singing together rather than focusing on beating everyone.
© Eliana M. Levenson FF2 Media (12/29/17)
Top Photo: The teaser poster for Pitch Perfect 3, featuring the Bellas.
Middle Photo: Off in the wings, The Bellas watch in distress as their competition rocks the stage.
Bottom Photo: The Bellas arrive on base for the start of their USO tour.
Photo Credits: Quantrell D. Colbert
Q: Does Pitch Perfect 3 pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
Hell yeah it does! With an almost entirely female cast, and love interests only barely making any sort of narrative splash, almost every scene in the film passes the Bechdel-Wallace test.
From the scene at the top of the film showing Beca and Amy’s friendship to the Bellas choosing to forgo their regular lives to tour with the USO to the penultimate moment where they all realize they can share more than acappella with each other, this is definitely a girl power film!