Ep. 139 – Jojo Rabbit, Dolemite Is My Name, The King, and an Austin Film Festival recap

November 4, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Jerrod returns from his Japanese honeymoon to hear about Cody’s time at the Austin Film Festival. They also review Jojo Rabbit, Dolemite Is My Name, and The King.

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Pitch Perfect 2

May 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson
Directed by: Elizabeth Banks (debut)
Written by: Kay Cannon (“Pitch Perfect”)

When “Pitch Perfect” came out in 2012, it was a bonafide sleeper hit. Taking advantage of a recent revival in interest in acapella music and piggybacking off of the female-led smash hit that was “Bridesmaids,” “Pitch Perfect” was able to take a sharp script from “30 Rock” writer Kay Cannon and turn it into a surprise box office smash that went so far as to lead its most notable performance of the song “Cups” by its lead actress Anna Kendrick to a top 10 Billboard hit. Looking to recapture the success of the original, and with a new layer of expectation, actress Elizabeth Banks steps into the director’s chair with “Pitch Perfect 2.”

After an embarrassing performance in front of the President of the United States at the Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas find themselves banned from performing. In order to regain their status, The Bellas led by captain Becca (Anna Kendrick) must enter, and win, an international contest which no American team has ever won.

Taking cues from many contemporary comedies, Cannon and Banks take the rapid-fire, volume joke approach for the films humor, which works to a surprising degree. The humor is non-stop and if one joke doesn’t land, there’s another one closely following that does. It’s an impressive feat, though not entire unsurprising given Cannon’s past in quick-witted “30 Rock” and the host of capable comedic actors at her disposal. In fact, the secondary cast may be the unsung hero of “Pitch Perfect 2.” When a laugh is needed, director Banks has incredibly gifted comedic actors like Keegan-Michael Key and John Michael Higgins to deliver a perfectly placed punchline. On the same note, “Pitch Perfect 2” is also more of an ensemble piece than the first installment, which was largely focused on Kendrick’s character Becca. There’s no question that Rebel Wilson’s character “Fat Amy” was the breakout character of the first film, and that has not changed. In fact, if anything, Wilson’s impact has only grown as she absolutely owns every scene she is in, garnering laughs at an impressive clip.

One of the more impressive elements of “Pitch Perfect 2” is its ability to mine humor and entertainment out of retreaded ground. It is expected that many plot elements or even jokes that were successful in an original installment will resurface in a sequel, but the way they are written and executed allow Cannon and Banks to continue to find gold. A great example of this is an underground acapella battle that happens midway through the film. Fans of the original will remember a variation of this scene where teams must instantly match the beat of the previous teams song with another song from the same designated category. Upping the stakes with a comically absurd grand prize and adding several completely hilarious and perfectly casted cameos and it is instantly a fresh take on a scene that has proven to work.

There are some story issues, and the films narrative can be a little overstuffed and quickly paced at times, but none of that gets in the way of the pure, unadulterated blast that “Pitch Perfect 2” provides. Though the musical parts of the film are again impressively done, it ultimately takes a backseat to the comedy, which works far more often than it doesn’t. It’s occasionally crass, offensive and a bit mean spirited, but almost always extremely funny and entertaining. In an age where sequels are regularly a disappointment, “Pitch Perfect 2” is, at the very least, equal to and quite possibly better than the original, and is the first legitimately great film of the summer movie season (Sorry, Avengers).

Pitch Perfect

September 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow
Directed by: Jason Moore (debut)
Written by: Kay Cannon (debut)

A mix between the cheerleading comedy “Bring it On” and the TV series “Glee,” Tony Award-nominated director Jason Moore’s debut film “Pitch Perfect” will cater mostly to indiscriminate teenagers looking for a few laughs. It does, however, have a surprising mean streak, which makes sense if considering Moore’s past work on Broadway. As head of the popular adult-themed puppet musical “Avenue Q,” Moore is conscious of his sardonic side. It’s emphasized by screenwriter Kay Cannon (TV’s “30 Rock”), who pays more attention to the cattier aspects of the story in lieu of what should be most important: the music. It doesn’t help that Cannon repeatedly reminds audiences that a cappella singers are the geekiest people on the planet. Each of these exaggerations is a squandered opportunity to add a genuinely written character into the choir.

Like the comedy “Joyful Noise” earlier this year, “Pitch Perfect” is a conventional film built around an entertaining soundtrack. It will be especially enjoyable for audiences who can appreciate the harmony created by the contemporary a cappella groups featured here. With hip renditions of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” and Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” among others, the best advice to follow would be to skip the theater and log on to iTunes.

Bachelorette

September 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher
Written by: Leslye Headland (debut)
Directed by: Lesyle Headland (debut)

After spending a few weeks on the VOD circuit, the adult comedy “Bachelorette” finally makes its way into theaters.  In “Bachelorette,” old friends Regan, (Kirsten Dunst) Gena, (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) are invited to be in the bridal party for their friend Becky’s (Rebel Wilson) wedding.  After derailing Becky’s low-key bachelorette party, Regan, Gena and Katie go out on the town and meet up with the guys and their bachelor party for Round Two.

As expected, the film delivers on its promise of debauchery with the bachelor/bachelorette party escalating into a night full of sex, drugs and bodily fluids.  Unfortunately, director Leslye Headland relies too heavily on trying to push the limits without a strong script and the film finds itself falling short on laughs.  One of the primary problems with “Bachelorette” is that most its characters are completely insufferable and irredeemable people.  Dunst’s character in particular is shrewd and grating, almost to the point where one might wonder how she has any friends to begin with.  The failure to create likeable characters is particularly disappointing considering the talent of the cast members.  The very funny Fisher is a complete waste in the film as she spends most of it being incoherently wasted in many unfunny scenes.  Though Caplan is the best and funniest member of the female cast, even she struggles to truly elevate the film from the constrictions of the material.

Due to its female-centered principal cast and taking place in the world of weddings,  “Bachelorette” will likely garner comparisons to “Bridesmaids.”  Where as “Bridesmaids” skillfully balanced gross-out humor with strong character relationships and great dramatic moments, “Bachelorette” is decidedly one-note.