Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

Consider this the rare bit of movie news that manages to handily encapsulate the promise of so many, many things we’ve long wanted to see come true, ranging from dearly-held personal preferences (a love for movies about reticent a cappella stars and Rebel Wilson) and the hint of an industry sea change that everyone should be hungry for (more female directors). It’s worth singing about, you guys. THR reports that Elizabeth Banks is on board to direct the upcoming Pitch Perfect sequel, as the co-star and producer of the first film will now add “feature film director” to her resume (along with maintaining both her roles as supporting star and producer). Banks was apparently “instrumental” in making the first film a success, and her energy and passion for the project seem to heartily recommend her for the gig. Screenwriter Kay Cannon, who adapted Mickey Rapkin’s book for the first film’s script, is also back on board to pen this new installment.

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Rebel Wilson Bargain

Short Starts presents a weekly short film from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Australian comedienne Rebel Wilson is really on the rise, and very quickly at that. It’s only been two years since she made her mainstream Hollywood debut (if we exclude playing a featured goth extra in Ghost Rider) with a small yet memorable role in Bridesmaids. But last year she was on fire with six major parts including a voice performance in the latest installment of the Ice Age series. Her big breakout, though, came with her scene-stealing stint in Pitch Perfect, which she’ll have a chance to reprise in a newly announced sequel. That movie helped her land the gig hosting last Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards, a ceremony hip to what’s hot at the moment. And now this Friday she can be seen in smaller capacity as a “penis magic” specialist in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain. To find her short start, we only have to go back to 2009’s Bargain! This isn’t exactly the beginning of her career, which for years has consisted of regular TV work Down Under, but it is her first lead performance in film. And while this lead performance is only a few minutes in length, it garnered Wilson a Best Actor award at Tropfest. The funniest thing about it, however, is that it’s nothing compared to the confident comedic standout we know her for only three years later. She’s great in the film, which is written and directed […]

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Pitch Perfect

Of all the news coming out of this year’s CinemaCon, the revelation that Universal Pictures is launching a sequel to their surprise hit Pitch Perfect is the one most worth singing about (it’s just convenient that this pun works so well in this context). Details are scarce on the follow-up, but we do know that the film will arrive sometime in 2015 and that original screenwriter Kay Cannon is set to return to pen this new feature. There is no word on other returning cast or crew (please, please, give us more Rebel “Fat Amy” Wilson). As Entertainment Weekly reports, the first film was a massive hit for the studio, pulling in $112m at the box office (with just a teensy $17m budget) and going on to “earn over $90 million across all home market platforms…it currently stands as the studio’s third highest-grossing VOD title ever behind blockbusters Ted and Bridesmaids. On top of that, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack has sold over 636,000 copies and spawned a hit single — complete with its own music video – with Anna Kendrick’s ‘Cups.’” Basically, this thing is money, so of course Uni is going to go the sequel route.

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magicmike02

I don’t know the last time I watched the MTV Movie Awards. I think Howard Stern was there promoting his never-made Fartman movie. No, that was the 1992 MTV Music Awards. What about when the kids from Rushmore reenacted scenes from Armageddon, Out of Sight and The Truman Show? Actually, I might have only seen the parodies and not the actual show. Whenever it was, it’s been a long time. Because what self-respecting film lover watches such self-important, self-promoting, ratings-grabbing b.s.? Wait, that doesn’t sound all that different than the Oscars, and we pay lots of attention to those. The only difference is that the MTV Movie Awards don’t have a history or consistency or the sort of class that we like to think the Academy Awards do. They’re an easy punching bag because they seem to pander by catering to more mainstream, high-grossing, youth-driven entertainment. Also, they’re on MTV, which we always love to shoot down (can’t we just give up and acknowledge how ahead of their time they were by ceasing to be “music” television and having an acronym-based brand that no longer stands for anything… like every single channel now?). But I decided to glance at the nominees for tonight’s awards and I realized something: the MTV Movie Awards celebrate movies far better than the Oscars do.

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Tina Fey

Now that Tina Fey’s successful NBC comedy 30 Rock has wrapped up its final season, it makes sense that her attention would turn more fully to getting into film. And now that Jason Moore’s Pitch Perfect has made legions of film fans believe that a movie about a capella competitions could be good and that God is real, it would make sense that he would be looking for a huge star to work with so that he can make an even bigger comedy. Hey, you got your Tina Fey in my Jason Moore! No, you got your Jason Moore in my Tina Fey! The big news here is that Moore is in negotiations to direct The Nest, which has been looked at as a starring vehicle for Fey for a while now. Coming from a script by Paula Pell (SNL, 30 Rock), The Nest is a story about two thirty-something sisters who, upset that their parents have put their childhood home up for sale, decide to spend one last weekend together in the house, fussin’ and fightin’ and doing all of the things that sisters in their thirties do. Given Moore’s success directing actresses to laughs with Pitch Perfect and Fey’s ability to pretty much just be funny all the time no matter what’s going on, this has to be seen as something of a dream pairing.

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2012-rejectawards

It’s funny. We spend so much time honoring the triumphs of 2012, and the big game won’t even roll around until February. The Academy Awards aren’t a paragon of perfection for some, and they aren’t the final word, but they are (like it or not) the closest thing we have to a standard for celebrating creative film talent. There job is to hand out the general cheers for performances, make-up, songs and the like, and since they’ve got those covered, it falls to us to hoist filmmakers and films on high for unique reasons. Reasons that might make the average Academy voter spit out their tea. From the far corners, here are the 2nd Annual Reject Awards.

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Pitch Perfect

Given its success at the box office, and the fact that movies about singing, or cheerleading, or whatnot always seem to get sequels, it was probably something of a given that this year’s surprisingly good a cappella movie Pitch Perfect would spawn a franchise. What is a little bit surprising though is that it sounds like it’s going to be getting a proper sequel, with several of the cast members coming back, and not just a straight-to-video farce where some unknown girl from the Disney channel explains to us that she’s Fat Amy’s cousin Chubby Debby, or whatever. The scoop regarding movement on a sequel comes from Movie Web, who sat down with that actor who played the sensitive guy from the first film, Skylar Astin, and had him spill the beans regarding where talk regarding a sequel is. Astin revealed to the site, “I do have a meeting with a Universal representative next week. And I know that Rebel Wilson had hers last weekend. It’s definitely a talking point.” Of course, one big name that Astin left out of his comments is Pitch Perfect’s lead actress, Anna Kendrick. Given the acclaim that she’s received for both her dramatic as well as her comedic work, and the grand possibilities of where her career could be headed very quickly, it would make sense that Kendrick would be the cast member most reticent to agreeing to appear in what might be a chintzy sequel. It will be interesting to see if her […]

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Killer Joe Chris (Emile Hirsch) is having a bad day, but when he decides the key to solving all of his problems is to have his mother whacked by a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) he discovers that things can always get worse in this refreshing return from William Friedkin. Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church and Juno Temple are all along for the violent and darkly comedic ride, but it’s McConaughey who shines through the grime, brutality and Southern hospitality gone bad. He excels as a cruel bastard looking for love in some very wrong places who’s unafraid to take what he wants even if that means abusing Gershon with a KFC drumstick. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Featurette, Q&A, SXSW intro, commentary, trailer]

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If there’s anything I hate most about the Oscars it’s the way the movie awards have the power to influence filmmaking. This time of year it’s more and more difficult to tell if certain films are even meant for us, the audience, or if they should solely be shown to the Academy in exchange for little gold men. Of course, one of the purposes of baiting for Oscars is to receive nominations and especially wins, which will presumably help earn more money at the box office (or, more likely, from the cable outlet). This still excludes satisfying the audience as the primary impulse and objective of making movies. In theory, accolades should indeed motivate Hollywood to make the best pictures they could possibly make. There’s still something to be said for art being the best when not aiming for praise and prizes, but in terms of studio product, which is more craft and entertainment than art and expression, such goals can be positive inspiration. Without the Oscars we probably still would have seen a profit-aiding progression of special effects technology and artistry, but surely some production values have improved over time as a result of sound recordists and costume designers and art directors and composers and songwriters striving to be known as the best in their field.

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In the new movie Pitch Perfect, a boy (Skylar Astin) introduces a girl (Anna Kendrick) to The Breakfast Club. It’s a believable scene, on it’s own. Even if I don’t necessarily think the 27-year-old John Hughes film, classic status notwithstanding, is a hugely important thing to the generation currently heading into college, I can accept that the guy is a movie soundtrack dork who seemingly loves only titles from before his birth and that she genuinely has never seen it. But it is a bit much that the signature Brat Pack film’s ending, with its iconic Simple Minds tune and Judd Nelson freeze-framed fist thrust, is played over and over, and the film figures so prominently into the romantic plot throughout. It all just feels like something from out of the mind of a thirty-something screenwriter rather than that of these modern-day teen characters. And the movie’s writer, Kay Cannon, is indeed a child of the ’80s and admits that The Breakfast Club is something she loves from her youth. Apparently, though, Say Anything was originally the teen movie of that era to be honored and made fun of in the new a-cappella-based comedy. She also is a big fan of Hughes’s Weird Science but couldn’t make it work. But for kids born around 1995, which is the target audience as well as the roles on screen, aren’t there more relevant films to reference? Maybe Mean Girls, Bring It On, Twilight, Rushmore, Juno, High School Musical, Superbad or — going […]

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Pitch Perfect

The good news is that Glee has not ruined a cappella singing-centric entertainment. The better news is that first-time feature director Jason Moore‘s Pitch Perfect nearly resurrects the entire mini-genre, thanks to a game cast and a relentlessly fun energy. Yes, Pitch Perfect is about competitive collegiate a cappella groups that have group names like “The Treblemakers” and yes, there’s a truly unexpected amount of vomit present and yes, one character insists on prefacing nearly all of her sentences with an “a ca-” (“a ca-awesome!” “a ca-what?”), and yes, the whole thing should be just awful and ear-splitting. But it’s not. Pitch Perfect is instead not only a fresh and funny spin on the musical genre, it’s also just damn funny on its own, one of the true comedic gems to come out of the studio system this year (remember how we all doubted 21 Jump Street? It’s like that).

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Pitch Perfect

Stop it, Anna Kendrick. Just stop it. You’re in danger of making everyone on Earth fall in love with you and/or want to be your best friend forever. And this? This is just too much. This is simply untoward. First, you go ahead and decide to star in a film that’s about college a capella groups. Then you apparently actually sing in the film (imagine that!). Then you sing no less than Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” in an empty pool and allow that clip to be released on the Internet for everyone to see, adore, and play on repeat. Stop it. Or just become my best friend forever. Okay? Seems fair. We might have to wait a couple more months to see Kendrick as awkward-college-freshman-turned-reluctant-a-capella-star Beca in Pitch Perfect but, until then, we have this unthinkably charming clip of Kendrick and her cohorts singing songs about S-E-X in an empty pool. Good lord!

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Pitch Perfect

If we’re being honest with ourselves and one another, we can all just admit to having both seen and enjoyed an episode of Glee at one point. For some, the enjoyment lasted beyond one episode. But the feeling is the same, and it’s not hard to understand why those darn kids love to watch singing, dancing stereotypes fight with the full force of school pride. Plus, those songs are catchy. It’s all part of what makes Pitch Perfect an interesting little project. That, and the fact that it’s led by Up in the Air star Anna Kendrick, who can apparently sing and rap and play the bad girl who just changed schools and it looking to find her way (even after she’s found her rape whistle). According to this first trailer, Beca (Kendrick) finds her way into an a cappella group performing girls-against-boys style all the way to Regionals, or something along those lines. With a script from 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon, there’s a palpable self-aware element shown off in the trailer. This movie knows that it’s premise is ridiculous, and it shall subvert at all turns. Mostly in the form of Rebel Wilson, who played one of the creepy roommates in Bridesmaids. Go ahead, watch the trailer and tell me you didn’t get a few laughs out of her performance.

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You know how that show Glee came out, focused on a bunch of teenage melodrama and cheesy stage show covers of popular music, and then became ridiculously successful? Well, Universal caught wind of that too, and now they’re looking to distribute a new film called Pitch Perfect, which will focus on the world of college level a cappella groups. Just think of it as Glee, the college years. The film is based off a non-fiction book that was written by GQ’s Mickey Rapkin and will be directed by Jason Moore who, in addition to being a stage director, has directed episodes of TV shows like Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, and One Tree Hill. The story follows a goth girl who attends the same college where her father teaches (which is extremely embarrassing for a goth girl), and who has a hard time adjusting to college life, until she discovers she has a great voice and then becomes the secret weapon of the school’s female a cappella group. Being a red-blooded American male, everything I’ve just written about this movie pretty much makes my blood run cold. Forget monster movies, slashers, and what have you; this could possibly be the set-up for the most terrifying horror movie ever conceived of. Except for one little detail that keeps me from writing this whole project off as simple schlock being peddled to teenage girls: Anna Kendrick is in negotiations to play the goth girl (do goth girls even exist anymore? I’m out of the […]

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