Currently browsing the "Anna Kendrick" tag.

Review: A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor is a tough one to process and define.  It’s a quirky crime drama that goes quite dark, but in a relatively light way. As weird as it is, it somehow works, because it pairs Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Mr. Right, Up in the Air) plays a goody-two-shoes single mommy vlogger named Stephanie who becomes besties with a sly and stylish PR executive named Emily (Lively, The Age of Adeline, “Gossip Girl”, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). The two have very little in common, except they both have young sons who attend the same school and clamor for a playdate. Whip up a few afternoon martinis, engage in some gal-pal chat about deepest, darkest secrets, and throw in a cute husband (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians), and you’ve got the makings of a stylish, twisty thriller moored in Emily’s sudden and mysterious disappearance.

Review: Pitch Perfect 3

Awards season is filled with a lot of complex, thought-provoking stuff that represents your cinematic meat and potatoes, with a side of veggies. Pitch Perfect 3 is your fluffy dessert. A simple treat that goes down easy but should be consumed in moderation. It’s not nearly as good as the refreshingly original Pitch Perfect (2012) or its entertaining sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015). But it is good enough to satisfy the fan base (you know who you are, pitches). At this point, the law of diminishing returns has definitely nibbled away at the comedy/music franchise. But there’s room for replenishment and redemption because the main characters are still fun to watch, and the music is still fun to hear. In other words, despite PP3 being marketed as the Bellas’ “Farewell Tour,” there will surely be a PP4 ‘Comeback Tour’.

Table 19

Table 19 is a so-so romantic comedy that practically screams CHICK FLICK from the get-go. We haven’t had one of those in a while, so for anyone craving the genre, it’s worth taking a seat at the Table. The film has some genuinely funny and poignant moments and is extremely relatable for anyone who’s ever been seated with a random group of strangers at a wedding reception. It’s a bit like The Breakfast Club – wedding edition. The plot centers around ex-Maid of Honor Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect, Up In the Air) whose boyfriend, the bride’s brother, recently dumped her via text message. After a raging internal debate, Eloise decides to attend the wedding as originally planned and is exiled to Table 19, along with five other misfits who fall into the category of obligatory invitees who “should have known to just send regrets – but not before sending something nice off the registry.”

Trolls

I had one of those little plastic troll dolls. I recently trashed it in an effort to purge stuff from my childhood bedroom. The doll was short and naked and dirty and had wild hair shooting out of its scalp. Who knew that just a few months later, I’d be sorry I let it go? It could have been a collectors’ item! My hindsight (along with a twinge of nostalgia) was provoked by Dreamworks’ new animated movie, Trolls. It’s far from a classic-in-the-making, but it is entertaining, even if the premise is somewhat appalling (in a Hunger Games meets Shrek of way). The colors are bright, the music is infectious, the writing is witty, and it’s got a happy ending. Hot lunch! (inside joke)

The Accountant

There’s a whole lot going on in The Accountant, but somehow it all adds up to a surprisingly entertaining action movie with an interesting story, some well-timed comic relief, and a very strong cast. So don’t let the odd premise — of a brilliant but socially-awkward numbers-crunching assassin with Asperger’s — scare you away. It’s one of my favorite movies of the year for sheer mainstream movie appeal, easily besting last week’s highly-anticipated drama The Girl on the Train.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Secret Life of Pets; Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates; Life, Animated; Zero Days

The Secret Life of Pets is one of those movies that is probably critic-proof because the trailer is so darn cute and promising that kids (and many adults too) will be eager to see it, no matter what. Still, I would be remiss to give it a glowing endorsement when I was, in fact, disappointed. I loved the first 15 minutes and the last 10 minutes of this movie. But everything in between dragged for me as the tone of the movie turned rather dark. The premise is awesome — what kind of lives are our pets leading when we leave them home alone for hours at a time? They party! They get together for walks! They watch telenovellas! The characters (dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, etc.) are all well-drawn, and well-voiced by the likes of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Albert Brooks. My issue is with the shift in tone from fun animal adventure to animated crime saga. The Secret Life of Pets is certainly way better than recent duds Ratchet and Clank, Norm of the North, and Angry Birds… but not nearly as good as Finding Dory and Zootopia. Oh well. I may not have loved The Secret Life of Pets, but I do predict the movie will boost attendance at theaters, animal shelters, pet stores, and dog parks! There’s also a cute short before The SLOP that features the Minions of Despicable Me fame.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Boss; Demolition; Mr. Right

The Boss – Sadly, The Boss kinda sucks. Or, to put it more gently, it’s really weak. The R-rated comedy starts out with huge promise and some very funny moments, but fizzles rather fast. Here’s the gist: Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a very successful but not-so-nice Suze Orman/Martha Stewart hybrid type who gets sent to prison for insider trading. She emerges from prison friendless and broke, but determined to rebrand herself and rebuild. Considering she screwed over a lot of people during her rise to the top, including her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), Darnell’s road to redemption is sure to be a rocky one. The Boss is no Bridesmaids. The plot is extremely contrived, relying mostly on physical comedy gags to break the monotony. Without a doubt, the character of Michelle Darnell needs to stay relegated to smaller, SNL-style skits. This full-length feature film treatment doesn’t do her, or the audience, any justice. Case dismissed.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 is a perfectly entertaining movie. From a plot perspective, it doesn’t measure up to its 2012 surprise-hit predecessor Pitch Perfect, but what it lacks in story, it makes up for in gleeful fun. Here’s the gist: the Bellas of Barden University are riding high as three-time national a capella champions. But an embarrassing faux pas and wardrobe malfunction during a performance at the Kennedy Center (for the POTUS no less) results in the school suspending the all-girl singing group, now comprised mostly of seniors who really need to be thinking about life after college anyway. The gals strike a deal with the school – and the a capella governing body – that if they can pull off an upset victory at an International competition that no American group has ever won, then the Bellas will be reinstated, and all will be forgiven. Ready, set, cue the music! What follows is pure fun, with informal sing-offs, bonding exercises, surprise cameos, and the return of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins in all their satirical glory as professional commentators for the singing competitions. They are hysterically inappropriate.

Pitch Perfect

Gleeks will rejoice in Pitch Perfect. It’s basically Glee goes to college – a cappella style. But even non-Gleeks can enjoy this one, thanks to a fun, diverse and talented cast, and even a bit of a plot (emphasis on the bit).

The movie stars the uber-talented young actress Anna Kendrick as Beca, a reluctant college freshman who would rather go out to LA to spin records for a living than endure the forced socialization rituals that come with higher education. When her father strongly encourages her to join something – anything – on campus, Beca chooses “The Bellas”, the  school’s all-female a capella group of misfits. The Bellas have one cardinal rule: No fraternizing with the enemy, the school’s all-male a capella group The Treblemakers. You can guess how well that works out.

50/50

Odds are much better than 50/50 that you’ll really like 50/50. It is, hands down, one of my favorite movies of the year. You’ll cry a little and laugh a lot.