It has been a few years since the Barden Bellas graduated from college, and while they have largely managed to stay in touch, they have not performed together at musical World Championships for a very long time. Needless to say, with their various career ventures not going as well as they had hoped and the media still keeping a close eye on them and willing them to fail, they are missing their beloved a cappella sing-a-longs a lot right now.
Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) has quit her job out of boredom, Flo Fuentes (Chrissie Fit) is serving on a city juice stall, Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow) is struggling to get into vet school and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is now a not so popular impersonator called Fat Amy Winehouse. But maybe they can give their musical passions a boost with a new kind of show...
Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp) has an idea of trying to obtain an invite to perform at a competition show in Europe set up by the United Service Organizations (USO) in support of the US Army soldiers. It's not like they have anything else to do at the moment so the group are all for it. However, armed only with their voices, they have quite the competition as many of their rivals are bands with actual instruments.
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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
The Barden Bellas are back after their impressive victory in a national a cappella chorus competition, where they proved the strength of girl power over some of the biggest choirs in the country. Beca, Emily, Chloe, Aubrey, Cynthia-Rose, Stacie, Lilly, Jessica and Fat Amy have got bigger fish to fry these days, as they eye up global competition ahead of the daunting international contest. They may have bags of confidence, but as no American chorus has ever managed to land the coveted prize before, it may not be enough to get them through this time. Nonetheless, it's time these girls tested their odds against the greatest collective voices on the planet, even if their new rivals are showing some seemingly matchless talent.
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Despite the fact that this too-soon spin-off feels like a mere cash-in on the Disney Cars/Planes marketing machine, this sequel is actually a lot more fun than expected. Not only is the animation witty and sometimes even exhilarating, but there are some solid messages in the story. On the other hand, there's also the continuing problem of making movies in which the central characters are inanimate objects with cute faces drawn on them. But never mind: see the movies, buy the toys, keep the kids happy!
After the globe-hopping race in 2013's Planes, the new champ Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) sees his new celebrity career grounded when he develops a problem in his gearbox. He can still fly, but the torque required for racing stunts could do him in. So he decides to retrain as an aerial firefighter to help his local airfield maintain its certification in time for the annual Corn Festival. In training, he is mentored by veteran chopper Blade (Ed Harris), working alongside his starstruck fan Dipper (Julie Bowen), the noble Windlifter (Wes Studi), the sassy Dynamite (Regina King) and the genius mechanic Maru (Curtis Armstrong). But a raging wildfire is threatening the nearby Fusel Lodge, and the local park superintendent (John Michael Higgins) doesn't want to shut it down with so many stars as guests.
The best touch here is to make Dusty utterly full of himself, never listening to any advice before charging in unprepared for the next challenge. It's predictable and underdeveloped, but it makes this chirpy crop-duster far more interesting, and adds some unexpected diversions in a plot that otherwise heads exactly where it has to go. Meanwhile, the screenwriters pack the dialog with witty puns and some snappy verbal and visual gags that allow the actors to give their vehicles a bit of personality, even if some of this is merely ethnic stereotyping or simplistic hero/villain morality.
Continue reading: Planes: Fire & Rescue Review
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
Beca is a fairly aloof music lover who arrives at Barden University as a freshman apathetically unable to fit into any sort of clique on campus. She is approached by the leaders of an a capella girls singing group, The Bellas, who ask her if she would like to join. Beca declines insisting that she doesn't sing, however she is soon discovered by one of the leaders whilst she belts out some tunes in the shower and is almost forcibly dragged onto the team. The singing group turns out to be an odd mix of weird kids, mean ones and dumb but nice girls who all create the most amazing sound when bundled together for a song session; Beca fits into the diversity pretty easily. The group set out to compete against their counterparts, a formidable male singing group, in a college contest.
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After his wife dies, Benjamin (Damon) is struggling to keep his kids - 14-year-old Dylan (Ford) and 7-year-old Rosie(Jones) - happy, mainly because he has lost the daredevil storyteller within himself. So against the advice of his goofy-but-sensible brother (Church), Benjamin buys a run-down zoo and moves there with his children to get it up and running again. Zookeeper Kelly (Johansson) and her team (including Macfadyen and Fugit) don't think he'll stick it out. And indeed, it's more of a challenge than he ever imagined.
Continue reading: We Bought A Zoo Review
Aside from the general lack of funny gags, miscasting is the major problem.
There's also an unwillingness to commit to the characters' dark sides, opting instead for gross-out silliness.
Continue reading: Bad Teacher Review
Mockumentary maestro Christopher Guest -- the driving force behind "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Waiting For Guffman" -- aims his satirical squirt gun at obsessive dog owners in his latest tongue-in-cheek, interview vérité offering, "Best In Show."
Casting a wide net across kitchy Americana, Guest's cameras capture a handful of mildly lunatic canine caretakers as they travel to and prepare for a prestigious dog show.
There's Harlan Pepper (played by Guest), a North Carolina fishing shop owner and the proud papa of a sad-eyed bloodhound he's convinced is psychic. There's cross-eyed, buck-toothed Gerry and trampy Cookie Fleck (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara), a middle-aged suburban couple with no kids but a pampered Norwich Terrier that is their pride and joy.
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A gratuitous wise-cracking sidekick and a tummy-baring, tight-top-wearing eye-candy vampire hunter have been added to the cast of the sequel "Blade: Trinity," but it's the gal (Jessica Biel) who gets most of the laughs, albeit unintentionally, with her lethargic, ludicrously inept kung-fu fighting.
Playing the hitherto unknown hottie daughter of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) -- that crusty veteran of the underground vampire wars who is mentor to the titular half-vamp Wesley Snipes in all three "Blade" pictures -- Biel can't swing a convincing punch or kick to save her life.
But giving Biel a run for her money as the movie's most absurd character is ironic indie-flick darling Parker Posey, disastrously cast against type as the leader of yet another tiresome uber-Goth vampire faction that pouts around in skyscraper hideouts when they're not busy reviving their millennia-old master.
Continue reading: Blade: Trinity Review
It has been a few years since the Barden Bellas graduated from college, and while...
In 2012, Pitch Perfect came out of nowhere to become one of the most-loved comedies...
The Barden Bellas are back after their impressive victory in a national a cappella chorus...
Despite the fact that this too-soon spin-off feels like a mere cash-in on the Disney...
You can call this Glee meets Mean Girls if you want to, but this riotously...
Beca is a fairly aloof music lover who arrives at Barden University as a freshman...
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