Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) by Elizabeth Banks

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Waiting for this movie has been torture. Watching trailers and clips has been torture. Two and a half years of torture. And then it came out and I’m not in Berlin anymore and can’t get my hands on an original copy and have to watch it in German – worst TORTURE!

pitchperfect2.5I’m over this now. So let’s look at what it’s about:

The Barden Bellas (among them Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean and Alexis Knapp are banned from competing on a collegiate level because of a mishap involving the president of the U.S. and Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) vagina. But since they’re reigning national champions (for the third time in a row), they are invited to the World Championship. If they win it, future generations of Bellas can compete again. But the competition is great and the reigning World Champions, an intimidating German team, are not going to give up their title without a fight. Gay things happen and the Bellas win.

Sorry for the spoiler, but you didn’t actually think they wouldn’t, right?

Is this movie as good as the first one? No. Is it bad? No, far from it, actually. It’s a lot of fun; it is pitchperfect2.7 pitchperfect2.4entertaining and well-timed. Love the music. But there are a couple of things that are off. Namely, why are the Trebles still in the big picture? Why is Beca still with Jesse (well, I think they’re together despite the fact that their relationship feels like an awkward brother and sister-thing)? Why did they have to make every other Bella a one-line joke (honestly, most fanfictions have better character development)? And why does Chloe behave like Aubrey at times (minus the throw-up)?

I’ll be writing about these things on my other blog. I’ll probably write about PP quite a bit again. But here and now, let me tell you: just seeing the Bellas together again, is heart-warming. I missed these girls; most of all Beca Mitchell who is still a lovely, sometimes awkward character who can be a dick sometimes. The music numbers are great, even those who are over the top. You can see that the actresses worked their butts off and it still looks effortlessly in the end. The chemistry is still there. Not just between Beca and Chloe – which is, of course, the heart piece of the Bellas as a group – but between Amy and Aubrey, between Stacie and Cynthia Rose and Jessica and Ashley. They brought most beloved characters back for the sequel, and I honestly only missed Donald, because the Trebles lost all their cool without him.

So, yeah, I enjoyed Pitch Perfect 2 – not so much the German version, and let me also add how pitchperfect2.2embarrassing it is for every German to have a group called DAS Sound Machine, when it is grammatically incorrect and you could hear it repeated and whispered throughout the theater whenever someone says it on screen. It could have been better, yes, but, oh boy, it could have been so much worse!

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As part of an obsession: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012) by Kirk Jones

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I remember watching the trailer and thinking: no way I’m going to watch that. I’m not sure if it was the way it was presented in said trailer or whether I didn’t pay enough attention to it but I was convinced that this was a movie about becoming a dad… somehow the ‘dude group’ got stuck in my mind as the main focal point and that was certainly no movie I wanted to watch.

Another problematic expectation for this movie was certainly that it was going whattoexpect2to be heteronormative to a fault – and at least on that account it delivered. But let’s look at what’s happening:

People are having babies. In this movie, there are five different couples in Atlanta who are expecting something small. Some rather unexpectedly, others after having tried for awhile, one couple is adopting. The different ways to deal with this are shown sometimes comically, sometimes tragically, even satirically.

Of course, most people know that there’s a book of same title out there, trying to prepare future parents for the big step of having off-spring. And I guess, it’s a helpful book – not having children or wanting children, I’m no expert on self-help books for expectant couples.

The storylines interweave in this movie, the couples are at different points in their lives, it’s all more about the comical element than representation of truth. It also tries to convey that pregnancies are diverse just as the women who are pregnant are diverse.

whattoexpect1It’s a little hard to talk about the different storylines of the film because there are several and all cast quite brilliantly. Of course, my focus was on Anna Kendrick as the young woman who got pregnant from a one-night-stand but miscarries. She probably has the most dramatic story-line and really builds a relatable character in a short amount of time. The ending to the relationship to Marco (Chace Crawford) is a little forced it seems. The movie is so adamant in creating a happy ending for all the stories that reasoning flies out the window in this one and we don’t really understand why Kendrick’s character Rose has a change of heart when she told him before that seeing him was too painful.

Maybe it is because the movie tries to tell too many stories and to do them all justice. But it is not the only problem this movie has. While the acting is excellent all around and the funny parts are really funny, some of Hollywood’s biggest problematic chlicées are reinforced. For once, people of color are rare. Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro play a latino couple and while all the white people in the movie are capable of having children of their own, these two are the couple who adopt. I guess that’s the heteronormative equivalent of having the only woman of color in a movie play the gay/bisexual character. Another one: Chris Rock plays one of the dads in the ‘dude group,’ the wisest, most whattoexpect5informed, cool dad – but also the one with the most kids, planning on more. African-Americans having a lot of children while his white buddies all stop at 1.9? Seriously? Of course, one can talk of satire in his case, as most of his role seems to build on it. Still, when you look at the set-up of the film you can’t help but feel that the people of color are pushed to the sidelines, especially with the multiple birthing-scenes all intertwining while the adoption scene is set apart. It would have been nicer if the adoption had been interwoven as well, showing that adoption isn’t something ‘less’ or something ‘other’ than having a baby in the ‘traditional’ way if you want.

Which also brings us back to the problem of heteronormativity. No queer characters, not even lesbian moms. I’m not sure where the book stands on that but the movie lacks on that aspect. Straight couples having babies – or not, or unwillingly, or predictably. Because there is realy something predictable how it is set up for just the right audience – white, straight folks.

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I already said that the acting was excellent but let’s elaborate a little. I was probably most impressed with Elizabeth Banks. And I don’t know where I know her from or why I haven’t paid much attention to her before but she is a really good actress. Someone who delivers lines in the best comical way. Anna Kendrick, of course, is amazing. In a movie that is funny and droll, she’s the one who has to pull out the big dramatic guns and she’s amazing at it. Jennifer Lopez – I think she is underestimated in whatever she does. She’s a brilliant performer and has grown as an actress. As a woman who is that successful, she’s criticized left and right but is always giving her best and you can see it in this movie where she shows a lot of depth and inside. And then, there’s Rebel Wilson and her role is really small but she’s just great. I loved the interaction between her and Elizabeth Banks’ character, the only real sense of – if not friendship then – camaderie between women that you get throughout the movie. And maybe that is its biggest mistake – it puts too much emphases on men connecting through fatherhood but isolates the pregnant woman… just a thought.

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Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect (2012) by Jason Moore

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(Okay, I decided to do this new thing – snapping pics of my tix and posting them with the review [these are only this year’s Pitch Perfect-tickets; I have another one from last year]; just for fun, y’know. And yeah, I’m aware that’s an ugly background, it’s my carpet; I will try to find a new one.)

As you can see, I haven’t been to the movies lately – money is hard to come by these days. But I didn’t want the world to end without having watched Pitch Perfect, so, this was the first movie since July I indulged in (I’m not especially sad to have missed most of summer’s blockbusters). As so many others I watched the trailer and just knew it was good – and for once, I am able to say that I was not disappointed by the product that was put out.

Is the story innovative – hell no! But who cares:

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Beca (Anna Kendrick) is pressured by her father (John Benjamin Hickey) to attend college although she would much rather move to L.A. to become a DJ. Her roommate Kimmy Jin (Jinhee Joung) hates her, and the only person paying any attention to her is this guy Jesse (Skylar Astin) who obviously just wants to get into her pants. Campus has four a cappella groups, among them the all-boys Treblemakers and the all-girls Barden Bellas. They are declared enemies but as life – or Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet much?) – has it, Beca ends up with the Bellas, while Jesse joins the Treblemakers. Hilarious ensues, the girls get their shit together and finally win the nationals, everybody wins – and Jesse gets into Beca’s pants (it is indicated, fortunately, we only see them kiss).

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As I said, the story isn’t really innovative, the love story’s kinda boring but it’s not the center of attention which is good. The main attraction is young people singing a capella and trying to be cool doing it. Yes, it leans heavily on Glee but it also makes fun of the show (the shower scene with Beca and Chloe wasn’t only hilarious, it was professedly gay – and a female rip-off of all the times the gleeks sang in the shower).

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Anna Kendrick is a wonderful lead, she is talented, she is captivating, she rocks this movie – and so does her cleavage (and if you tell me you weren’t as distracted by it as I was you’re lying). And then there’s Rebel Wilson playing Fat Amy. How do I explain Rebel Wilson – she is flawless… if you haven’t seen her in anything yet make sure you watch her in Pitch Perfect – she rules this movie, she is badass, and I am saying this with the utmost respect for her and all her abilities. She’s funny.

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With so many women packed into one group, gay ensues. I wasn’t entirely happy with the obviously gay character Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) (and it wasn’t a surprise that with all the white girls in the Bellas, she was one of the few women of color) but then there was the chemistry between Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow. And it’s not just about the shower scene, the first time these two meet, Snow is eye-sexing Kendrick so obviously that even I saw it. And it wasn’t the only time either. With all the things being said between these two during the movie, I actually scratched my head at the end of it when Beca kissed Jesse – I had quite comfortably leaned back into my head-canon and assumed that the two girls would end up together. Well, Hollywood says no and all the fans start writing BeChloe fanfiction.

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Update: I have now watched it four times and that’s only at the movies – and it still rocks. I’m actually rather obsessed with it and count myself as one of those fans who write BeChloe fanfic… what can I say: I love those awesome nerds.

Comedy in Crisis

Horrible Bosses (2011) by Seth Gordon

Bridesmaids (2011) by Paul Feig

Maybe it’s just me but I hate comedies of late. Simply, because I don’t think they are especially funny. Most of the time, I have enough after the trailer and don’t wanna see more because I did not laugh at anything in the trailer – and we all know they pick the funniest scenes for the trailer (I am going to stop writing trailer now). So, these last few years I have watched a lot of horror movies because they make the better comedies.

For some inexplicable reason, I have become obsessed with Jennifer Aniston lately (I don’t know why but it is not necessarily out of the ordinary since I get obsessed with actresses sometimes and get over them… it’s not usually somebody that has been around for so long, though, and I never liked Friends and always liked Courtney Cox much better, so, that is the surprising part…) and this is why I wasn’t too disappointed when my favorite movie theater showed Horrible Bosses in the sneak peek last night. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t have watched it if it hadn’t been for the sneak peek but I have thought about it – simply for the sake of Jennifer Aniston.

And it is not not funny. It has it’s moments, definately. But it also has a lot of this-is-so-not-funny-why-is-everybody-else-laughing-moments. Because sometimes people laugh because they know they are supposed to laugh despite not finding something funny. For example, there is this scene where two of the main guys argue about who would get raped more in prison – each wanting to be the one who gets raped more… This is not funny at all. Seriously, makes one (that is me) wonder if men are not being raped enough (which I wrote for provocation’s sake not because I believe it). But I laughed along with everybody else before I stopped myself, looked around, shook my head (at myself). I said it is an example, and it really is an example for the kind of jokes that we are presented with in comedies these days… there were also some gay quibs that I could have done without, as every buddy movie has to have those.

In my opinion, there is something wrong with comedies – maybe not even lately but for some time now. They are either romantic (straight) comedies I have absolutely no interest in because, well, they are heteronormative and all the same, or they are, I don’t know what to call it, maybe adult comedies with an annoyingly great amount of jokes about excrements, body fluids, and dicks.

No wonder, I haven’t watched comedies in so long…

The sad part is, I love comedies. My favorite movie of all times is a comedy (The Philadelphia Story, 1940). The 30s and 40s produced witty comedies, they were sexy in a way, you would almost call innocent today. Romantic comedies of today try to immitate that style but it is more often smothered by the “love story.” I want to blame There’s Something About Mary for this – as I see it – crisis in comedy. It may not have been the first that had me completely grossed out but it was probably one of the most successful. I mean, yuck!

I really wish that I could say that Bridesmaids which I have watched on Tuesday and deliberately was an example of a more intelligent form of humor. It wasn’t. I liked it, yes, but I have felt a kind of desolation, a discontentment with it after I left the movie theater. It has a great cast and some great messages, yes, but it has also some really disgusting barfing and such… I wonder, do you really appreciate that in a comedy? Really? Well, I don’t. And as I said, maybe it is just me. There were parts of both movies, Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses, that I liked but overall I left the movie theater wanting to punch someone in the face – and I am a friggin’ pacifist, y’all!

I am aware that not all movies that are funny have the sort of excrement humor in it that I hate – but those that are called comedies usually have. Or they are the other kind that I hate, romantic comedies – I don’t know which are worse.

So, where does that leave me and my love for comedies? Nowhere, I am afraid. As by today, I will again ignore everything that is supposed to a “comedy” and will once again concentrate on horror movies. And I will probably get some more 30s and 40s comedies – screwball and sophisticated alike. What else is a person to do to get her laughs on?