Pitch Perfect is a throwback to the 80s and lots of fun!

I was not interested in Pitch Perfect.  But, my daughter went to see it twice and was telling me it was loads of fun and a good time.  So, I went.  And she was right.  It reminded me of those 80s movies that are light on substance yet, heavy on charm.

The credit has to go to writer Kay Cannon, who has created some realistic and quirky characters and to Broadway director Jason Moore, (making his film début here), who made wise choices by keeping the pacing fast and the tone light.  You are never bored and find yourself laughing out loud at some of the silly shenanigans.

It helps that the cast is pretty cool.  Rebel Wilson is going to become a force to reckon with if she continues her scene-stealing ways and Anna Kendrick is as lovely as ever (and who knew she could sing!).  A fresh face, that I liked a lot was Hana Mae Lee (Lilly)–who has a very funny voice “handicap” and milks it throughout.

Sometimes I like to go and watch what I call “light and fluffy” movies.  These films are like cotton candy, while you are eating the melt-in-your-mouth goodness, you do not care that you are consuming pure crystallized sugar–full of empty calories that is guaranteed to give you a painful sugar crash.  Why? Because it is delicious and fun to eat.

That is Pitch Perfect.  Cotton candy, without the painful sugar crash–just fun.  😀

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ParaNorman scores high points for originality and craftsmanship…

First of all, I love stop-motion animation and I also love it when kid-centric films do not insult children. Treat them with respect–speak clear and they will understand and hear your message. ParaNorman does that successfully. It is an original take on accepting and loving yourself and they even throw in the affects of bullying. Nicely done.

This is the second feature released by Laika Animation (the first being the 2009 Coraline–which is one of my favorites). And again, they stay in the adventure/horror genre. This time though they turn it on its ear.  Things are not quite what they seem in Norman’s universe and they have fun exploring all the clichés (“Not   all witches have to be ugly? Of course, they are…they’re meant to sell key chains.”).

The film was written and co-directed by Chris Butler (first feature) and the experienced animator director Sam Fell. Together they do an excellent job of building the characters around this unique premise. As a zombie/horror fan, I appreciated all the cool nudges to the classics.  It is at once touching, poignant and funny. The skill and patience that it takes to create this medium is incredible.  The result is nothing short of amazing.

The voice talent is perfect and surprising. I could easily make out John Goodman, but Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Anna Kendrick were unrecognizable–so cool.  Kodi Smith-McPhee (Let Me In) as Norman and Tucker Albrizzi as Neil are both wonderful (and kind of look like their 10 inch figures).

Overall, this is a great story, cleverly done. It may a bit too scary or gory for young kids (depending on their exposure) and although it does not reach Nightmare Before Christmas iconic status and it’s not even as perfectly crafted as Coraline, it is still a cool addition to the genre that I am sure will continue to grow in cult status. I foresee Halloween viewing in my future. 😀

50/50 = 100% Awesome!

Balance.  That is a tricky feat in Hollywood storytelling.  Many films struggle to find the right tone or direction–and sometimes you find it–the perfect balance.  50/50  sounds like a downer–a young man is diagnosed with cancer and we get to watch his experience.  Woohoo!  Fell good movie of the year–right?  Actually…yeah, it is!  I laughed out loud, cried a bit and LOVED every minute of this film.

I should also tell you that I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He continues to impress me.  From 3rd Rock from the Sun to Inception.  His young career is filled with memorable, wonderful performances and 50/50’s Adam is another one to add to the list.  If Joe doesn’t receive an Oscar nomination I will be upset because his Adam is layered and nuanced.  An everyday guy faced with a difficult roadblock on his life’s  journey.

A nice surprise is Seth Rogen.  Who I like, but can be a bit annoying sometimes.  Not this time.  As Adam’s best friend Kyle he shines.  All his strengths are highlighted and he very funny.   Add a fabulous Angelica Houston,  the adorable Anna Kendrick  and a getting good at being nasty,  Bryce Dallas Howard and you have a strong supporting cast.

The biggest credit must go to screenwriter Will Reiser, who was inspired by his own battle with cancer and has created this lovely, heartfelt, funny and realistic story.  His timing is perfect.  Just when you think it is too deep or serious, the tone changes smoothly and you find you are laughing–even if you don’t think you should be.  I will keep an eye on this guy.

Not to be overlooked is the director Jonathan Levine.  He directed the little known gem titled The Wackness back in 2008 (if you haven’t seen it–check it out–it is quietly good).  He deftly tells this story by showing details rather than telling you.  It works.  You learn more about these characters by these actions, than by anything they could have said.  I will definitely be watching his career.

Dez and I were lucky to get to a preview screening of 50/50 and we both agreed it is one of our favorite movies of the year–so when it goes wide on September 30th–put it on your MUST see list!  You will not regret it!