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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.

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Pitch Perfect 2 World Premiere

Eric Braeden, Paul Brooks and Christian Gudegast - A host of stars were photographed as they arrived for the Los Angeles Premiere of the comedy movie 'Pitch Perfect 2' which was held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 8th May 2015

Eric Braeden

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.

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Picture - Paul Brooks , Tuesday 25th September 2012

Paul Brooks Tuesday 25th September 2012 Los Angeles premiere of 'Pitch Perfect' at ArcLight Hollywood - Arrivals

Paul Brooks

The Haunting in Connecticut Review


Grim
For those of us growing up in the '70s, there was one seminal, supposedly true, scary story. No, it wasn't Helter Skelter or the trumped-up Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No, in high school cafeterias everywhere, we teens were talking about George and Kathy Lutz and their 1977 journey into red-eyed demonic pig terror, The Amityville Horror. The novel was a post-modern masterwork, a complete con passing itself off as irrefutable "fictional" reality. Now comes The Haunting in Connecticut, a similarly-styled exercise culled from a novel, plus an episode of the always trustworthy TV show from the Discovery Channel. Oddly enough, it's another network -- Lifetime -- that sets the tone for this tepid terror tale.

Ever since he was diagnosed with cancer, life has been a struggle for Matt Campbell (Kyle Gallner). While his recovering alcoholic Dad (Martin Donovan) tries to maintain house and home, well-meaning Mom (Virginia Madsen) drives several hours to Connecticut to try an experimental technique which offers some hope. The toll on the teen is too great, however, so Mom eventually moves the family to an old dilapidated house so he can be closer to his doctors. Almost immediately, weird things start happening. The building creaks and odd ethereal noises are heard. Soon, Matt is seeing spirits and discovering the facilities for a funeral home in the basement. As dark forces torment him and the rest of the Campbell clan, Reverend Nicholas Popescu (Elias Koteas) tries to save them from the evil forces festering in this psychically charged dwelling with a terrifying, telling history.

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New in Town Review


Terrible
Minnesota is a very cold state. Because of that, the populace is susceptible to a number of maladies the come with the chilly climate, one of which is hypothermia, the symptoms of which, thanks to the Renée Zellweger/Harry Connick Jr. romantic comedy, New in Town, a moviegoer can experience in the comfort of a heated movie theater and not have to be troubled to take a biplane to Duluth.

When hypothermia is first experienced, you gasp, your skin begins to cool, your muscles tense and shiver, and your blood pressure increases. This happens almost immediately in New in Town when we are introduced to tight-assed Miami business executive Lucy Hill (Zellweger), sent to New Ulm, Minnesota by her employer to close down a local food manufacturing plant. (As she tells a factory worker, "I'm here to do a job, not to make friends.") Lucy is so stiff and uptight, she recalls an ancient film performance like Elizabeth Allen's priggish and cool New Englander sent to Hawaii and thawed out by John Wayne in Donovan's Reef -- or maybe even Diane Keaton in Baby Boom.

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Over Her Dead Body Review


Good
"'Til death do us part" rarely works in Hollywood, where screenwriters bring soul mates back as actual souls to haunt the loved ones they've recently departed.

The latest spirit disturbed for the good of a joke is Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), the classic "Bridezilla" who bites the dust on her wedding day. Kate is crushed by an ice-sculpted angel, a gruesome death that leads to one of several sharp gags when Kate ends up in heavenly Limbo. Blocked from entering the afterlife, Kate must return to Earth -- she assumes -- to protect her fiancé Henry (Paul Rudd) from any advancing love interests. But that's only half true, much to Kate's chagrin.

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Because I Said So Review


Terrible
How did we get here? Michael Lehmann's career seemed like one of those no-brainers, destined to slowly pour a mixture of cyanide, ammonia, and pop rocks into the drinking well of modern teen romps and romantic comedies. A debut film tends to state a director's intentions, and Heathers was the sort of debut that said "lock up your prom dresses and get out your garter belts, this ain't gonna be pretty." Somewhere, these intentions were lost like a mentally ill turtle that surprisingly found itself in the toilet bowl.

Heathers sashayed into theaters in 1989 and since then, Lehmann has turned in nothing but guilty pleasures and unfathomable duds. In hindsight, one could have never seen the man behind Hudson Hawk, My Giant, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and The Truth About Cats & Dogs also being responsible for one of the most influential films of the 1980's. But here we are: 18 years after Heathers, Lehmann reduces his talent to a spasmodic headache about... sweet Jesus, you got me.

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Slither Review


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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Dysfunktional Family Review


Grim
DysFunKtional Family forces the question: Why is there an Eddie Griffin stand-up comedy movie? Comedy concert films normally center on legendary names (like Richard Pryor), big stars (like Martin Lawrence), or giant arena events (like The Original Kings of Comedy) -- although Griffin is a competent comic actor, is his live performance worthy of a feature? Not really.

There's no denying that Griffin has an easy confidence and a practiced style on stage. It's just that his material and delivery aren't superior enough to entice comedy fans to put their butts in movie theater seats. Even when Griffin's content is witty and thought provoking -- like his view of a short "racism-free" period after September 11 -- his windup and pitch just don't get you laughing out loud.

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White Noise Review


Unbearable
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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Sonny Review


Weak
He's a gigolo. She's a call girl. Together they're a pair of super-heroes that galavant around 1981 New Orleans. OK, everything but that super-hero part is true about Nicolas Cage's directorial debut, which gives us James Dean lookalike James Franco trying to change his ways and get a "normal" job, only to find out normal ain't all it's cracked up to be. Back to the housewives with ya, and now that Cage has the vanity project out of his system, he can go back to making more movies with Spike Jonze.

The Wedding Date Review


Unbearable
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.

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