Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch Perfect was a hit for myself a few years back. You can find that review here. It had so much fun and crazy and musically catching. There was so much that worked even if it hit some absurd notes here and there. While I had my criticisms, it proves to be one that I watch over and over again and somehow love more and more. The way the first movie ended left it wide open for a sequel and in 2015, we got one. I’m not sure why I waited so long but maybe its a part of me that wonders how feasible a second one could be.

Lets check it out!

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

pitch perfect 2

Director: Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Ben Platt, Anna Camp

Oh, Pitch Perfect 2, so much good and yet so much felt a little overboard and disjointed. This franchise’s strength is in its musical numbers and in many ways, the sequel follows a similar formula to the first. Disaster at performance, loses credibility, new girl new ideas, losing group magic and journey to regain it and finally the final hurrah and of course, you can’t forget to throw in a great rival. What Pitch Perfect 2 adds is that these girls are all heading into graduation and call it a final showdown before they grow up and go their separate ways or whatnot, its also about letting go of this safety net they built and finding the courage to move on. This sequel also has following and gives them a pass because there is already some knowledge about these young ladies and we can’t help but at least like them. If they are leaving, then how are we getting a Pitch Perfect 3? While I don’t quite know the answer to that, there is something of a handing down the baton as we get a new member here played by Hailee Steinfeld and she, like Becca in Pitch Perfect, changes the formula of the Barden Bellas.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 didn’t quite hit the greatness of its predecessor. The main reason being it seemed slightly disjointed. Some absurdities was really there because they could put it there and never seemed to serve much purpose. However, you can probably argue that these moments define the characters and show off the essence of the movie and is for comedic effects. And in some ways, it certainly delivers. In others, perhaps it tests where your funny bone lies, aka what makes you laugh. There was certainly a lot of humor here that worked for myself because I had the background of the first one and the respective characters. However, there were some rather ridiculous bits that just felt a tad a stupid and unnecessary.

Pitch Perfect 2

Fact is, Pitch Perfect 2 has a lot of parallels to Pitch Perfect. The rivalry or the riff off now called something else. There’s the bonding and rebonding. There are familiar faces that come back and extensions of relationships. There are new hurdles as they step into a new world just like the previous. The mash-ups aren’t as good as the first one but they are acceptable. It really elevates the concept that Pitch Perfect was great for its cast and this one brings them out as much as they can. They create more growth for Becca as she somehow strives hard to grow outside of the Bellas, Fat Amy connects with herself a little more and with Bumper (who makes a reappearance after his irresponsible exit in the first movie), Anna Camp stops by for a tough love bonding experience cameo, etc. Hailee Steinfeld plays Emily, the new addition with a knack for making original music and adds to their skill set

Overall, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about Pitch Perfect 2. It made me want to watch Pitch Perfect (again) and see the movie in its full glory. There’s a lot of similarities in the second one even in the story arcs and yet it never quite lives up to the original perhaps it lacked its own personality. The new characters didn’t bring anything new. The old characters still had their charm which is what kept it fun to watch. There were some laughs and equally some meh and some WTFs. In the end, it was an average experience.

Have you seen Pitch Perfect 2?

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Valentine’s Marathon: Mr. Right (2015)

And the Valentine’s Marathon finally starts! There’s only like a five day countdown to the actual day, not that it really means anything much to myself but its a nice excuse to jump into some romantic comedies and other romance dramas. I finally managed to find time to get some of it done.

The first one was actually quite unexpected but I wanted to be spontaneous so I ended up choosing Mr. Right. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, what can go wrong, right?

Let’s check it out!

Mr. Right (2015)

Mr. Right

Director: Paco Cabezas

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA, Katie Nehra

A girl falls for the “perfect” guy, who happens to have a very fatal flaw: he’s a hitman on the run from the crime cartels who employ him. – IMDB

It always feels good to start up a movie and right away, the comedy tone is exactly what you’d like. Mr. Right was exactly what I liked about it. It helps that I’m a fan of Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick. Mr. Right isn’t perfect for sure. The story itself has some pretty awkward and great moments. Some other fun times and there’s a tad of action here and there but the true stars of the movie in this rather messy plot line that seems to really work best when Sam Rockwell and/or Anna Kendrick is on screen. Lucky for us (and the movie as a whole), they are in a lot of scenes. Our villain is a little undefined because there’s Tim Roth’s character hunting down Sam Rockwell, that trickles into a somewhat silly but manipulative plot of these brothers and their feud, who are the obvious baddies. Mr. Right works in all the odd and awkward ways.

Mr. Right

Mr. Right has a great cast headlining for it. Anna Kendrick plays as Martha, a girl freshly broken up and in the recovering days, she meets Mr. Right (aka Francis), played by Sam Rockwell. Anna Kendrick as Martha sometimes reminds me a little of Tina Fey. That is a great thing because Tina Fey’s humor usually works for me. Anna Kendrick however carries herself nicely as the sweet but unique girl. Martha is a colorful character. She has weird thought processes and connects odd things together and right from the child of her aspiring to be a T-Rex, we already know we’re in for some fun times. There are not enough words to describe how fantastic Anna Kendrick plays this role into a believable manner. Its hard for us to find someone so awkward also but she does in Mr. Right, a hitman with a reverse psychology to not only dance his way out of situations, view a connection to the objects around him to predict when and where things will drop but also kill the people who hire him because murder is wrong. Mr. Right is on the run but when he misses Martha, he feels the connection right away and it changes who he is a lot because he doesn’t want to lose her. In just a short few days, the connection between Martha and Francis are amazing. Odd and awkward but incredibly cute and fun. Props goes to Sam Rockwell for being able to pull off such a crazy character but also to both of them for delivering incredible chemistry. Even without the action and fighting and guns, watching them both was charming and adorable and entertaining to no end.

Mr. Right

I’m a fan of Tim Roth. I’ve liked him since his role in Lie to Me. He was the highlight of 2015’s The Hateful Eight (even if I didn’t like the movie). Yet here, his character is interesting to say the least. Its hard to say its bad but probably more underused. Tim Roth plays Hopper, the mentor of Francis who is now hunting him down to set him straight from what he thinks is pathetic ways. However, Hopper also is a master of disguises and when he acts as a cop in New Orleans, his accent actually sounds pretty bad. Not that I’m an expert at accents but it felt a little fake, which it is, of course. In many ways, if this plot was only about Hopper chasing down Francis and then Francis falling for Martha, perhaps it would be more neat.

Mr. Right

However, we then step into the other plot point of the actual baddies which are brothers in feud where the younger Von, played by James Ransone, is trying to use Francis’s reverse hitman oddity to his advantage and get rid of his brother, Richie, played by Anson Mount who now runs the show. Von has the help of Johnny Moon, played by Michael Eklund (who I recently complimented for his role as the bad guy in The Call). These guys are all idiots on purpose, meaning the script wrote them like that and its these moments that give the movie a comedic action moments and in all honestly, with a story that doesn’t really have much going for it with these bad guys and whatever they are up to, that is what makes it all the more entertaining. It actually boosts the characters of Francis and especially Martha as she breaks out of her shell and embraces her crazy making her really the perfect match for her Mr. Right.

Mr. Right

You know what? The more I write about it and think about Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick as Mr. Right/Francis and Martha, I just can’t help but love them more and more. Sure, Mr. Right has a few flaws, mostly in a somewhat messy plot with supporting characters not used to their full potential but there’s something special here. Its entertaining and has some really great comedic moments. The chemistry between Francis and Martha is awesome and made me love them and cheer for them in all the weirdest ways to actually believing that they are in fact, perfect for each other. And Francis compliments Martha in the oddest moments during the movie and its kinda cute and sweet and hilarious all at the same time. Action-romantic comedy dose totally fulfilled here.

Have you seen Mr. Right? Are you a fan of Anna Kendrick and/or Sam Rockwell?

Netflix A-Z: The Voices (2014)

We’re nearing the end of our second round of Netflix A-Z! We can start our countdown from 5 on the letter V and for this one, it was a debate between Vampire Academy and The Voices.  Since my husband was the one choosing, I didn’t think he’d want to go through the misery of watching the first choice so we landed on the second.  Honestly, I’ve been intrigued by The Voices. It has a pretty decent cast and it looks funny and weird all at the same time.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Voices (2014)

the voices

Director: Marjane Satrapi

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver

A likable guy pursues his office crush with the help of his evil talking pets, but things turn sinister when she stands him up for a date.-IMDB

The Voices is a lot of things.  Its funny, awkward, quirky, a little disturbing and most of surprisingly fun to watch. I like the cast.  Ryan Reynolds hasn’t disappointed me other than the time when he was in Green Lantern and even then I don’t think it was his fault. Gemma Arterton has proved, especially in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter that she has the chops to play horror comedy sort of movies.  And well, I’m just a huge fan of Anna Kendrick who is incredibly funny in her little awkward way. The Voices pieces together a nice little horror comedy.  It definitely builds into a look into the mind of our main character, Jerry who is kind of sweet but lives in a rather deep fantasy.  His reality isn’t all that great.

The Voices

In a way, its hard to dislike Jerry even if he is a murderer.  He’s lonely and mentally unstable.  Its partially his fault because reality makes him lonely so he doesn’t take the medication he needs which his psychiatrist, played by Jacki Weaver, urges him over and over to do in order to continue on these treatments. That is besides the point.  To a certain extent, Jerry is extremely clueless.  He is influenced by his mind and I’m guessing this is some statement about mental health in here, not in the violent way but just how it really affects you.  The Voices are essentially just his companions.  I mean not in the way that his voices which are in his head but like his pets, Mr. Whiskers and Bosco. And these pets are like the angel and devil sitting on his shoulder and they are absolutely  hilarious.  They might actually be my favorite part of the movie.  The surprising part (apparently my husband didn’t find it at all surprising) was that Ryan Reynolds voiced the pets. He does a fine job at it.

The Voices

If I were to criticize just one little part was that the ending felt like it lost a little bit of steam portraying him unravelling.  Still, it was a lot of fun to watch.  I like dark comedies a lot and its rare nowadays to even find comedies that I actually think work.  This was an unexpected surprise.  I didn’t have much expectation of how this would go but I’m happy that it was as enjoyable as it was.

Overall, a fun little black comedy with some great performances.  Its probably one of my favorite roles of Ryan Reynolds, especially with his voice work as Mr. Whiskers.  It winds down a disturbing path as the story unfolds and we see his character Jerry unravel and break apart mentally in a way.  Its a worth a watch if dark comedies are your thing.

Have you seen The Voices? What do you think about it?

Recap: Oscars 2015!

The Oscars 2015 came and went last night.  I feels like this year is zooming by.  Although, I didn’t manage to get to catch up with a lot of Oscar nominees (not just Best Picture), I was looking back at my past two years and realized this year, the whole having a week of watching Oscar nominees, was effective because I actually watched 10 movies that were nominated in various categories.  I beat my own personal record so thats something. I’m guessing, next year, I’ll try to schedule Oscars earlier, except how? The Valentine’s marathon clashes with it a little.  Anyways, I have a year to figure it out.

We celebrated Chinese New Year dinner while watching Oscars this year, so that was a pretty nice addition because for once, I’m not sitting there by myself with a cup of tea in a lonely dining room.  I actually had my mom and her friend, plus my boyfriend (who was dozing off eventually).  It was appreciated because its one thing to talk about red carpet in my head but its always more fun to hear other opinions.

Lets start this with Best Dresses that wowed me! 🙂 The order is from left to right for Top 5.

Anna Kendrick Cate Blanchett Rosamund Pike Scalett Johansson Naomi Watts

After that, I also liked: Emma Stone, Margot Robbie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

I’m a little on the fence with Marion Cotillard’s dress.  I can appreciate its elegance but the back part wasn’t really my cup of tea.

BEST MOMENTS

This year’s Oscars had a lot of moments.  The moments are not in any order.  I’m just numbering them so that I don’t get carried away.

1. Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Kendrick and Jack Black opening act

Oscars 2015

Respectable and paying tribute to a ton of epic movies with awesome singing and adding a little funny moments with Jack Black butting in from the audience.  It was classy and fun all at the same time.  Unfortunately, Neil Patrick Harris cracked only a few jokes last night that I found worked and didn’t feel awkward. Can we have Ellen back for next year?

2. Patricia Arquette’s speech & Meryl Streep’s reactionOscars 2015

Oscars 2015

Oscars 2015 was not only full of surprises (which were more like unexpected turnouts), but it was full of meaningful speeches.  Not so many people thanked the Academy but rather used the opportunity to share a personal view.  Patricia Arquette spoke for women rights equality.  While, documentary winners also did it: Citizenfour spoke out for fighting for privacy and democracy, while Crisis Hotline:Veterans Press 1 shared a heartfelt speech dedicating the award to her son and making a point that suicide should be “talked out loud”.

3. John Legend and Common’s performance followed by John Legend’s speech

Oscars 2015

Other than “Everything is Awesome”, which was a really fun performance, I haven’t heard any of the other songs.  In the Red Carpet/pre-Oscars part, they had talked to Tim McGraw and how it was going to be a tissue-worthy performance.  It was an extremely calm and soothing song.  Then, John Legend and Common was on for the last original song performance for Selma called “Glory” and that was just absolutely awesome.  They had to win this and they did in absolute style with John Legend’s inspirational speech.

4. Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor in Leading Role

Oscars 2015

Its always great to see an Oscar winner completely shocked by winning.  Plus, talk about an awesome honeymoon gift, right? Eddie Redmayne’s shocked and enthusiasm was amazing and charming and adorable all at the same time.  I kind of started hating myself a little for not finding the time to watch The Theory of Everything before the Oscars.  But then, its still rented and I’m going to try and get that in this week some time.

5. Lady Gaga’s performance for The Sound of Music 50 year tribute

Oscars 2015

The Sound of Music is my most favorite movie of all time.  I was wondering what Lady Gaga’s performance would be for and when they announced it, I paused a little because c’mon, Lady Gaga? The Sound of Music? Not exactly a match.  BUT, other than the fact that there was a few parts you can tell her forcing an English accent as she sang to replicate the song, she did a fine job and her voice is a lot more than Bad Romance and all her other funky hits (that I’m not exactly a huge fan of). She did a stellar performance and Julie Andrews looked absolutely touched by it all.  Julie Andrews is incomparable and her showing up at the Oscars made my night 🙂 Lady Gaga’s gown here looks a lot better than that avant-garde one she wore on the red carpet, just my preference…

THE AWKWARD AND SLIGHTLY CREEPY MOMENT

Oscars 2015

It all started great with making fun of John Travolta and his butchering of Idina Menzel’s name last year.  But when he turned around and got all touchy and making that weird face.  I was a little disturbed with the whole thing.  Oh goodness…Need to move on and not look at that…

In terms of awards, there were a few unexpected but well deserved surprises.

grand budapest hotel

The Grand Budapest won all the artistic merit ones: Best Costume Design, Best Hairstyling and Makeup, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.  I personally loved all of those things and I loved that each of those winners thanked Wes Anderson for thinking up the fun and quirky adventure that the Grand Budapest was.

I haven’t seen Whiplash but I didn’t really expect it to win Film Editing.  But then, all the other nominees had a deserved spot to be there, just looking at the concept.  I only knew Boyhood and that one had good editing too. I need to find Whiplash and check it out 🙂

Which goes to say that I’m going to be searching out Birdman now because it won all the awards I had wanted Boyhood to win.  Boyhood was a little gimmicky but I hold true that it was a brilliant movie.  We’re all entitled to our opinions, right? Thats what makes the blogosphere so fun 🙂

This has gone on long enough! Time to wrap this up!

Did you watch the Oscars? Which dress did you like the most? What was your favorite moment? Were there any surprises?

Christmas Marathon Double Feature: Arthur Christmas (2011) & Happy Christmas (2014)

Christmas is here in only a few days and I have a TON of stuff (tentative) that I want to put on, so I’m going to do a double feature.  Now, Arthur Christmas really deserves its own post BUT I’ve already reviewed it once HERE when I saw it on a flight back in 2012.  Except, I felt that it deserved a rewatch because when I’m on the flight, at a certain point things just feel really blah because I feel really blah and I think that affected my view of the movie. And then, there’s the issue of the second movie Happy Christmas but I’ll go more in detail below.

Lets get this started!

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011)

arthur christmas

Director: Sarah Smith & Barry Cook

Cast (Voice): James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen

December 24th is a busy day for Santa and aside from popular belief, its not a one man show.  Santa (Jim Broadbent) has a whole group of support helping him be the most efficient possible to make sure every child isn’t missed. The biggest help comes from his older son Steve (Hugh Laurie) who is hopeful in being the next Santa.  Santa’s younger and much more clumsier son, Arthur (James McAvoy) is a full believer of Christmas and admires his father but is sent to take care of Letters.  When he realizes that a child was missed, he is determined, even though his father and brother believe it is impossible to deliver it on time to the child, to get the gift to there with the help of GrandSanta (Bill  Nighy).

arthur christmas gif

Arthur Christmas is a brilliant animation and believe me, its a lot more engaging and entertaining to watch it on a bigger screen than the plane screen (obviously). The dynamic characters and the fun approach of a modernized Santa versus the traditional Santa works out to be a lot of fun.  Its full of hilarious moments intertwined in some awkward but still funny ones. It takes what we believe and adds a new little twist and its completely believable.

arthur christmas

The voices are done so well. Arthur Christmas makes Arthur out to be so different, scared and abnormal in his family but also its him that makes this so heart-warming, fun and contributing to what makes this absolutely funny.  Arthur is a lovable character because he is unique as the clumsy worry wart who doesn’t believe that he can do anything other than worry and be scared. But he has the purest of hearts and that makes him awesome 🙂

I’ve already reviewed this once before but second viewing in a normal setting definitely accentuated the awesomeness in Arthur Christmas and in my last review, I said its not one I’d go to for Christmas every year, well, I take that back.  This one is definitely worthy for annual viewing 🙂

Have you seen Arthur Christmas? What did you think about it? 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS (2014)

happy christmas

Director: Joe Swanberg

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Mark Webber, Joe Swanberg

After a breakup, Jenny (Anna Kendrick) moves in with his older brother (Joe Swanberg), his wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) and child.  Jenny is irresponsible and not very trustworthy as they learn about it quickly but while she is getting over her breakup and moving forward, Kelly is also dealing with having a hard time finding the inspiration for her next novel.  With the help of Jenny and her friend, Carson (Lena Dunham), she starts finding that she needs to create a balance between her career, her family and her husband in order to feel more motivated and happy with her own life.

happy christmas

First things first, other than being set during Christmas, do not let Happy Christmas fool you with its title.  It has nothing to do with Christmas.  In fact, its pretty much an indie drama to the core.  Its a lot of low-key issues piling up together and moving in a realistic way of just watching a family interact with each other.  I’m not particularly a fan of movies like this especially since they always end in this somewhat weird abrupt fashion.

happy christmas

The cast did well with what they had and I could get on board with what the story was trying to say but in the end, it felt like I watched 82 minutes of really not much going on.  Maybe I’m too emotionally stunted to watch these things. Or maybe, I just don’t like to watch such profound movies with some deeper meaning to it, which kind of makes me feel really bad (like I have no depth) when I say that.  Except its the truth.  It just feels so meh.  The only thing I liked was the characters but the story itself didn’t have much going on.

I don’t know how to review something like this.  Reason for the double feature. I wasn’t exactly impressed with the movie but Anna Kendrick is fantastic in this so that kind of works out 🙂

(I’m kind of cheating to put this in Christmas marathon but it was part of my rundown and the title has Christmas in it, so it kind of works, right?)

Have you seen Happy Christmas? What did you think about it? 

Paranorman (2012)

I’ve been working hard on watching all those unseen movies..but I did end up getting this one at a decent price recently at Walmart.  This one had a lot of positive reviews last year and being made from the same company as one of my favorite animations, I had to check it out right away!

paranorman posterDirector: Chris Butler & Sam Fell

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin

Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives in a little town called Blithe Hollow.  He is a bit of an outcast and everyone thinks his weird because he talks to empty space.  However, the real deal is that he can see and talk to ghosts.  Some ghosts stay around because they have unresolved business and he can talk to them and get along with them even better than with live people around him.  At home, his parents especially dad (Jeff Garlin) doesn’t believe these things and just wants him to normal and cut out all the pretending that grandma is still alive. At school, he gets bullied by  a guy called Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).  As much as he learns to ignore everyone and just be alone, a little chubby boy, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), who also gets bullied wants to be his friend.  He gets approached by his uncle’s ghost to go look for a book to read the story in order to stop the witch from rising from the dead, however, he is too late. Along with his sister Courtney, Neil and his brother Mitch(Casey Affleck)and Alvin, Norman goes to find a way to stop the witch and the undead from destroying his town.  To do this, he has to figure out where the witch was buried and the get the whole story.

paranormangroup car

Paranorman is a stop motion comedy thriller animation with zombies and ghosts.  However, its not very scary.  Its done by the same company who put out Coraline.  Coraline is one of my absolute favorite animations.  It was creepy but fun to watch, mixed with a bit of humor.  I really looked forward to Paranorman for those exact reasons.  This one was pretty fun.  It was suitable for kids because the ghosts and the undead aren’t too scary looking but then it got the message around.  Maybe a few jumps here and there.  It was some fun witty humor matched with a pretty well-written story.  I loved it! Maybe not as much as Coraline, but this one is less tense, its much  more awesome family fun.

paranorman ghosts

This whole animation was done very beautifully.  The visuals were outstanding from the backgrounds to the ghosts, the animated sceneries.  The characters were designed very well.  It focused on not only the adventure and mystery of saving the town from ghosts and zombies, but featured the family element of bond, understand, and support for each other, brings in hints of friendship and of course, the biggest issue was about bullying.

paranorman neil

Norman was a pretty cool character.  I loved how he was stubborn about his own beliefs.  I may never have met any kid that can talk to ghosts but he has some believable aspects.  One of my favorite characters has to be Neil.  He was hilarious. He had some of the best dialogue that would just crack me up. The voices were done very well and it was just an extremely entertaining movie in general.

Wonderfully animated, funny characters, some ghosts and zombies with an evil witch, this movie had it all for me to pull it out at Halloween (or even before that) to watch again. I definitely recommend it 🙂