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Pitch Perfect 2 Review


Excellent

In 2012, Pitch Perfect came out of nowhere to become one of the most-loved comedies in recent memory, and the good news is that this sequel matches it with both spiky humour and buoyant music. It would be impossible recreate the surprise of watching the original, but the cast and crew make up for that by kicking everything off with an outrageously rude prologue (complete with the biggest cameo imaginable), and the comedy that follows is relentlessly hilarious.

It's been three years, and the Bellas are now in their final year at university, having won three more a cappella National Championships along the way. Then they're disgraced by a wardrobe malfunction at a triumphant performance for the US President's birthday. Suspended by officials, their only chance to redeem themselves is to win the World Championships in Copenhagen. So Beca (Anna Kendrick) and her sidekicks Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) rally the troops to prepare to take on the fearsome reigning champions Das Sound Machine. And there's a new Bella on the team as well: freshman Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who is dabbling in songwriting.

Along with this central plot, Kay Cannon's script also weaves in a series of side-stories for each of the central cast members involving decisions about the future and romantic entanglements. All of these are a bit feeble, but they add layers of comedy, drama and even some meaning, although there isn't a single surprise along the way. Still, it's consistently amusing, as every line of dialogue has a witty joke in it, and the performances crackle with improvisational silliness that's genuinely infectious. Once again, the seriously gifted Kendrick is effortlessly charismatic as the natural leader of the gang, while the class-clown Wilson steals every scene with her random gags. Steinfeld offers a fresh blast of energy and talent in her role, although the perky Snow is somewhat sidelined this time.

Continue reading: Pitch Perfect 2 Review

Pitch Perfect Review


Essential

You can call this Glee meets Mean Girls if you want to, but this riotously intelligent comedy is much better than that. With one of the funniest scripts of the year, the film keeps us laughing all the way through, never running out of witty gags even when the rather predictable plot kicks into gear. But then, we never really care where the story's going when getting there is this much fun. And honestly, we never want this movie to end.

Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a young woman who would rather mix mash-up tracks than attend a boring university. But here she is, so she decides to make a go of it by getting a job at the student radio station and joining the women's competitive a cappella group, the Bellas. But control-freak leader Aubrey (Camp) is annoyed to have the snarky Beca in her group, to say nothing of self-named Fat Amy (Wilson). Meanwhile, Beca's colleague at the radio station, Jesse (Astin), joins the champion male group the Troublemakers, led by the arrogant Bumper (DeVine). But as Beca and Jesse start to become friends, they risk running afoul of Aubrey's only rule: Bellas cannot date Troublemakers.

This rom-com plot isn't the focus of the film, nor is the impending a cappella championship, which we know from the start will be a showdown between the two groups. No, the focus is on the individual journeys of the characters, and even the smallest side characters are given space in which to grow on us. They're also brilliantly well-played by the entire cast, anchored by a solid, surprisingly layered turn from Kendrick. But the film's real scene-stealers are Banks and Higgins as competition commentators who reel off snappy jokes with such blinding speed that we can barely breathe whenever they're on screen.

Continue reading: Pitch Perfect Review

Slither Review


Very Good
The word itself, lolling off the tongue as it does, conjures up images of those slick, slimy denizens of swamps, sewers and sloughs. And writer/director James Gunn (2004's Dawn of the Dead) couldn't have picked a more perfect name for this queasy, rollicking throwback to the monster cinema of the drive-in days.

The film is a goofy, but intelligent, combination of David Cronenberg's seminal slimy freak-out Shivers, the underrated teen zombie slugfest, Night of the Creeps, The Hidden, and one of the countless ribald, hicksploitation flicks that clogged the drive-ins in the '70s (I don't think I've seen such a cast of less-than-attractive performers outside of Quest for Fire.)

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White Noise Review


Terrible
White Noise is predicated on an intriguing process called Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) where the dead contact the living through televisions, telephones, and radios. Some may think it's ridiculous, but EVP has long been a fascination for ghost researchers. It's also been the basis for some of the creepiest and most disturbing horror movies ever made, like The Ring and Poltergeist. But with White Noise, we receive mixed signals and a new broadcast that becomes a boring waiting game for the thrills to begin.

Michael Keaton is Jonathan Rivers, a successful architect and loving husband to his pregnant novelist wife Anna (Chandra West) and father to his son Mike (Nicholas Elia), from a previous marriage. After Anna's sudden disappearance and subsequent death, a man named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) contacts Jonathan claiming he's been receiving messages from Anna on the other side. Desperate to be connected once again with his wife, Jonathan begins a dangerous obsession with EVP.

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The Wedding Date Review


Terrible
Somewhere in Hollywood exists a bin of scripts, each bearing the label "Not Quite There." The stories tend to be half-baked, the characters might be underdeveloped, and the jokes often lack those all-important humorous punch lines that seal the screenplay's deal. Sometimes, these "Not Quite There" scripts suffer all three problems - true stinkers, indeed.

Most A-list actors and actresses know better than to dip their hand into the forbidden bin. When the barriers break down and a proven talent skims the bin's surface, we endure Cameron Diaz in The Sweetest Thing, Bruce Willis in Mercury Rising, or Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in The Mexican.

Continue reading: The Wedding Date Review

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Paul Brooks Movies

Pitch Perfect 2 Movie Review

Pitch Perfect 2 Movie Review

In 2012, Pitch Perfect came out of nowhere to become one of the most-loved comedies...

Pitch Perfect Movie Review

Pitch Perfect Movie Review

You can call this Glee meets Mean Girls if you want to, but this riotously...

Advertisement
Slither Movie Review

Slither Movie Review

The word itself, lolling off the tongue as it does, conjures up images of those...

White Noise Movie Review

White Noise Movie Review

White Noise is predicated on an intriguing process called Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) where the...

The Wedding Date Movie Review

The Wedding Date Movie Review

Somewhere in Hollywood exists a bin of scripts, each bearing the label "Not Quite There."...

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