'Pitch Perfect 3': What the Critics Are Saying
Early reviews suggest the third installment in the franchise fails to deliver the sisterhood and originality of the first two films.
Reviews for the Trish Sie-directed Pitch Perfect 3 are in and suggest that the flame that ignited the Barden Bellas' girl power may have fizzled out, proving third time may not be the charm for the franchise.
The film follows the post-college life of Beca (Anna Kendrick), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) as they attempt to find purpose outside of their once-renowned a capella group. Failing to succeed in the “real world,” the Barden Bellas reunite to perform in the overseas USO tour.
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck, the third film of the a capella saga suffers from “franchise fatigue.”
“Franchise fatigue is evident throughout this mechanical enterprise, which squanders the good will engendered by the original 2012 sleeper hit and, to a lesser extent, its even more commercially successful 2015 sequel,” Scheck writes. “Whatever charms the first two movies possessed (and they were considerable thanks to the talented and appealing cast) have been thoroughly lost in this soulless installment.”
While the film embodies all of the “familiar elements” of the previous films, Scheck finds issue with the third installment’s lackluster plot and jokes. “This installment has an air of flop-sweat desperation, from the camel-toe joke delivered just minutes into the proceedings to the supposedly hilarious notion of Wilson performing action movie stunts,” Scheck writes. “The plot machinations — which include Beca dealing with a crisis of conscience while deciding whether to take up DJ Khaled's offer to open for him, but only as a solo act — are beyond tiresome, and not even the appeal and comic chops of the lead actresses are enough to carry them off.”
Scheck notes that the musical numbers continue to be the highlight of the film, “but what started out as a charmingly offbeat comic premise has inevitably degenerated into the sort of crass commercialism that probably would make the Bellas themselves turn up their noses.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph's Tim Robey writes, “It’s got to be a basic rule of cinema in 2017 that no one should pay to watch a Pitch Perfect movie, only to get something visually identical to what Brett (Rush Hour) Ratner turned in when he was still employable."
Categorizing the film as a “action-comedy pastiche,” Robey says that if "the film proves just one thing, it’s that Anna Kendrick can be set down in almost any grueling situation and keep up that whole 'wait, what?' shtick of hers till closing time. If you needed the seats either side of her kept happy, she’d be great to hire for an awkward third wedding.”
Helen O’Hara of Empire Magazine commends Kendrick for doing the “best she can” among the “less well-served” cast. O’Hara also argues that while the musical numbers are the moments the film “truly comes alive,” the third film “fails to live up to what’s on stage.” “It’s a good thing this caps the trilogy because it’s coasting on fumes,” she writes.
Vulture's Emily Yoshida was also unimpressed by the film’s attempt at embracing a sisterhood that includes a “still-kind-of-snotty” Beca and Snow’s “hapless try-hard Chloe.” “Even still, that not-at-all-cohesive crew is much easier to root for than Beca herself, and Pitch Perfect 3 struggles most when it tries to make us care about her music career, and it tries a lot.”
Yoshida also failed to find a connection with the female cast, writing, “The film ends with a refutation of the usual 'if you want to sign one of us, you sign all of us' band-movie cliche, which I appreciated. But it also ends with a sentimentality I didn’t buy — the Bellas don’t seem to particularly care about each other outside of a competitive setting, so why should we?”
“The Barden Bellas don’t go out on a winning note," writes Mara Reinstein of US Weekly. "The movie is tone-deaf. The characters are off-Pitch. It’s not over until Fat Amy sings, and she does! Pick any music pun, and the disappointing result is the same.”
Forbes’ Scott Mendleson shared similar negative sentiments about the studio’s presentation of the third film. “Pitch Perfect 3 seems to hate its franchise and hate its characters,” Mendleson writes, further arguing “it creates a narrative where the Bellas are outright losers, places them in a position where they are outmatched and outclassed in every way, and then lets us laugh at them or feel sorry for them for nearly the entire running time.”
Mendleson warns fans of the franchise to simply disregard the third installment, writing, “If you love this series, it's best to pretend that this installment didn't happen, like the ninth season of Scrubs or whichever Alien or Halloween sequels you choose not to count. To paraphrase the other big generational passing-of-the-torch sequel now in theaters, it's time for Pitch Perfect to aca-end.”