Pitch Perfect 3 doesn’t necessarily mark the end of the series (as promos & marketing imply), but instead suggests a move for the franchise into a completely different genre: the action-adventure. Yes, you heard me right – an action adventure film. Pitch Perfect 3 ostensibly splits into two different storylines: the ‘A’ plot is exactly what you would expect – the Bellas, struggling with post-college life, meet up for one last music tour, where Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) encroached to pursue a solo career; but in the ‘B’ plot – Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) reunites with her no-good father (John Lithgow), a mobster with nefarious intentions. The first half of the film focuses on the ‘A’ plot, the same-old-same-old of the first two films (singing, dancing, rivalries, flirtatious romances), but around the midpoint, the film shifts completely into Fat Amy’s B-plot – introducing kidnapping, fight-sequences, explosions & villainous ‘Bond esque’ monologues to the ‘Bella-verse’.
It’s a slightly startling genre shift, yet somehow feels of piece with the tone of the series. As filmmaker Trish Sie quickly pointed out – Pitch Perfect has always dealt in the absurd, so merging the franchise with ‘James Bond’ doesn’t feel so out of left-field as the concept may initially seem. In fact – if there’s ever a Pitch Perfect 4 or a Fat Amy & Beca spin-off (which bet-me-five-bucks-there-will-be), it feels wise to skip the whole singing-acapella competition and just dive right into the action-comedy. If The Fast and Furious franchise could transition from a ‘Point Break’ cops-and-robbers riff to an ‘Oceans 11’ team-heist series, then there’s no reason The Bellas can’t make the jump from belting tunes to punching gangsters.
In the following interview with filmmaker Trish Sie, she discusses adding the action-adventure element to the Pitch Perfect verse, how the script changed during development, and if there’s a line for going too far over the top. For the full interview, read below.
Of note: there are some spoilers in the below interview
I really like that everyone in Pitch Perfect is just really nice to one another…
Trish Sie: I liked it too. I was big on that even when I came onto this a year ago and things were considerably less dark than today. We don’t need another movie about girls being mean to each other. When you’re working on a movie like this, you’re wondering where [is the] conflict. The logical thing is that the [Bellas] turn against each other at some point. There were several versions of the script where we tried that out. What if two of them want to sleep with one of the soldiers? It all felt wrong. It’s better to find conflict from the outside because it’s important to see people being nice to each other.
Yeah – a lot of the films out today seem very cynical and then you watch this movie and it’s pretty refreshing…
Sie: Yeah and to some degree, when we were making [Pitch Perfect 3], we were wondering if it was too syrupy; but I feel like it’s the medicine we need right now.
Joining the Pitch Perfect franchise two films already in – what is the process to acclimate yourself to the series?
Sie: I had to balance two things at the same time. I would always have to test myself and imagine this movie standing on its own. Imagine this is the first and only movie. Imagine what you would want it to be and try to stay true to that. Then at the same time you have to honor what came before and you certainly have to honor the people who watch the movie, fall in love with the characters, and want to see a certain kind of movie out of this third one. It helps that I’m a fan of the other movies. because then it becomes a question of what did I like about those movies, what made me be like, ‘Oh, that was good.’ Stick to that. That’s what I kept trying to do.
So much of the fun of theses films is based on the interactions between the cast…
Sie: They’re at their best when they’re loose. Some of it is improv. Some of it is just letting them rehearse a lot and talk to each other because they really do play off each other well. They’ll give each other ideas and encourage each other. A lot of it is collaboration and take after take after take. You watch them get into a rhythm and give each other ideas and play off each other. They know each other so well that they’ll throw something out there and someone else will pick it up. It’s pretty cute. There was a lot of ‘just let the camera keep rolling’ or ‘don’t yell cut’. We’d do scenes not necessarily in takes but in bursts. Just letting it get playful to the point you’re not aware the cameras are rolling.
Was there a script in place when you came on board?
Sie: There was a script. The version that we shot though is quite different. I don’t think it has much in common with [the original] script. It went through a bunch of rewrites and got a major overhaul.