Currently browsing the "Elizabeth Banks" tag.

Review: Charlie’s Angels

The new Charlie’s Angels movie is not quite a reboot. Or a sequel. Or even a reimagining of the classic franchise. It’s more of a continuation, expansion and rebranding of the female-driven crime drama that launched a thousand magazine covers and at least one iconic hairstyle when the detective series premiered in 1976 with Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett), Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson) and Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) employing a combination of beauty, brains, bikinis and athletic prowess to chase down bad guys. Angels came and went over the course of the series, which lasted five seasons and later spawned two harmless yet forgettable big-screen adaptations, Charlie’s Angels (2000) and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) featuring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, and directed by McG.

Charlie’s Angels (2019) pays homage to all that came before it, while modernizing and expanding the brand, and introducing a new group of angels for a new generation. It doesn’t suck; but no need to rush out and see it.

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’.

Love & Mercy

I will admit right up front that I was never a fan of The Beach Boys. So I put this film off and that was a mistake. While Brian Wilson may be the central character, Love & Mercy is much more than the story of a famous boy band. It’s a sweet redemptive love story wrapped in a harrowing tale of mental illness. It stars John Cusack and Paul Dano as Wilson at different key periods in his life. And both of them deserve high praise for their portrayals of the creative genius with enormous problems. Not being a fan of the music, I was surprised by how beautifully it was put together and ultimately how much I liked this film.

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.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Hollywood can be so cruel. Splitting the third and final book of The Hunger Games trilogy into two movies feels so… unnecessary. Lucrative, in a “hey, Harry Potter and Twilight got away with it” kind of way. But still, totally unnecessary. Thus Mockingjay – Part 1 is a good movie that could have been great. It’s a means to an end – and that means fans of the franchise will (and should) see it despite my frustrations with a narrative cut short. Then – come next year – we will all surely see it again, as part of a movie marathon, when Mockingjay – Part 2 bows in theaters. Just in time for Thanksgiving 2015! May the odds of remembering what happened in the books – and the first three movies – be ever in our favor.

Mockingjay – Part 1 finds our reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen (still played brilliantly by Jennifer Lawrence) waking up in the rebel safe haven of District 13 after having put a fork (okay, an arrow) into the craziness that was the Hunger Games – where kid ‘tributes’ from the districts of Panem had been forced to fight to the death as part of some annual penance devised by the autocratic Capitol. Why? It’s complicated. If you really care to know, read the books. See the movies.

The Details

The Details is opening under the radar, and I think for good reason. It tries really hard to be a dark comedy, but doesn’t really get either part of that equation right. It is not funny enough or dark enough, and for me the biggest problem was the casting of the lead – Spiderman, er, Tobey Maguire. The movie is about Jeff whose nice little life suddenly seems to spin out of control. He is an obstetrician with a beautiful wife (Elizabeth Banks) and a cute kid, and they live in Seattle in a lovely house. But when raccoons take over his newly sodded back yard, everything else starts to unravel, and somehow that leads to poisoning, porn, infidelity, organ donation, blackmail and murder!

People Like Us

People Like Us will have to fight for attention and word of mouth. But it’s a very satisfying departure from the loud, crazy, crude, animated, 3D, superhero, star-studded or simply bizarre flicks that tend to dominate the summer box office. It’s a nice adult-themed PG-13 drama/comedy that’s inspired by true events, which makes it all the more intriguing.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

I wasn’t expecting much from What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and it’s a good thing because this movie really doesn’t deliver. It’s one of those movies that suffers from too many plot lines and too many stars — Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Chris Rock, Chace Crawford, just to name a few. Based loosely on the best-selling pregnancy manual, the movie focuses on five couples who are expecting. Four of them are in Atlanta and one is in Los Angeles but of course they are all somehow connected. (Frankly, we could have done without at least two of the couples.) Throw in the gang of park-walking dudes/daddy support group led by Rock and it’s all just too much going on.

The Hunger Games

May the odds be ever in your favor. Odds are, if that means anything to you at all, then this review is totally irrelevant – you’re going to see The Hunger Games. As well you should. It’s good. It’s not “oh my gosh – this is, like, the best movie ever” good. But it does serve the book and its fans quite well. In case you’re unfamiliar, the movie is based on the first book of a young-adult, adventure science fiction trilogy by Suzanne Collins. That means we can expect at least two (or if the studios take a page from Potter and Twilight, at least three) more installments of what’s sure to be a gazillion-dollar franchise.

The premise is admittedly bizarre. Every year, a teenage boy and girl from the 12 districts of Panem are sent to the Capitol to compete in a nationally televised, fight-to-the-death competition known as The Hunger Games. The Games were created as punishment for an uprising against the Capital decades earlier – and perpetuated as a way to keep the districts in line. Think of the 12 Districts as home to the 99 percent. The Capitol houses the 1 percent.

The Games’ participants, known as Tributes, must fight one another until one survivor remains. And just like Texas with the Miss America pageant, some tributes are better prepped than others for the competition.

Man on a Ledge

 Man on a Ledge is one of those movies that holds your attention and ultimately entertains, even if it does fade from memory a short time later. The less you know going into it, the more you’ll get out of it. So if you think you may want to see it, skip the more in-depth reviews and stick with this one!