Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect draws from three modern entertainment genres: 1) Crude humor like American Pie, 2) Teen and twenty-something TV like Dawson’s Creek, and the Broadway musical-made-into-a-movie genre like Rock of Ages. While the musical genre works well, the other two genres are only grasped at. I wanted to laugh at the jokes but I usually didn’t. Contrived as it was, I did enjoy the A’capella music and some of the humor.

I surmise Pitch Perfect was written for 3 genres: 1) Crude College Humor like American Pie, 2) Teen and Twenty-Something TV like Dawson’s Creek, and Broadway Musical-Made-Into-Movie like Rock of Ages. While the A’Capella music and some of the humor in Pitch Perfect works well, the other writing falls short of any genre. It was directed by Jason Moore, known for Dawson’s Creek. There are many known actors including Anna Kendrick as Beca, known for Twilight, Brittany Snow as Chloe, known for Prom Night, and Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy, known for the movie Bachelorette. There are a lot of other familiar faces in this film. My synopsis: Beca, starting out as a freshman at Barden University, is stifled in her dream of being a DJ and instead joins The Bellas, an A’Capella all-girl singing group. While the seeming band of misfits has some enjoyable talent, Beca brings some new talents out of her DJ bag that shake things up.

Most of the audience will appreciate the Chris-Farley-like humor of Rebel Wilson as Amy. I always applaud overweight actors that seek to promote healthy weights from the silver screen. It’s a better message to girls growing up today than the usual one of the need to be thin to be love able. Onto the relationships: there are no love stories here to “get into.” There is the obligatory one where the girl breaks up with the guy and the guy moves on and the girl runs back to the guy … yadda yadda. It is all written in such a shallow way. And then there is the music … I have no complaints there. As I close I must mention the projectile vomiting. The song leader does that when she’s nervous. It happens 3 times I think and the 2nd time one singer lays down and does a snow angel in it. It’s probably pudding but it made me nauseous. It seems like one genre mentioned above always has to have that good old projectile vomiting. Pitch Perfect some ways does everything it’s supposed to according to its market. In my analysis, Pitch Perfect is a good movie for its music but not great in any way.

Here Comes the Boom

“Here Comes the Boom” has received a slough of low ratings due to its failed jokes and recycled conventions. It’s redeemed by its Rocky spirit and message for teachers to inspire their students.

There is now another “root for the underdog” fighting film to add to the movie archives. It’s also another try at a “feel good education” film. The Kevin James movie I’m referring to Here Comes the Boom was directed by Frank Coraci, known for other Happy Madison movies like Click and Zookeeper. It’s received a slough of low ratings due to its failed jokes and recycled conventions. Those are valid criticisms but it’s redeemed by its Rocky spirit and good message for teachers to inspire their students. It is decidedly not a Stand and Deliver or Lean on Me … but it does promote inspiration which makes it worth seeing.

IMDB summarizes the film as follows: A high school biology teacher looks to become a successful mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to prevent extra-curricular activities from being axed at his cash-strapped school.

As a public school teacher I found many flaws in the way the teacher interacts with the Principal as well as his colleagues. In fact, I criticized most of the way he is portrayed early on. Nonetheless, when he started his UFC fighting, I forgot about all that and enjoyed the ride. I only wish it could have began sooner.

Listen, Kevin James is a smart actor. His King of Queens show is up there with Seinfeld in reruns and syndication. I love it. At this point his career, he wouldn’t willingly release a dud. Even though most the reviewers treat it as such, Here Comes the Boom is quality entertainment with a top notch tip for all teachers.

In the final scenes of the movie, the true purpose of education is revealed: to inspire. There are no standardized test scores reported but we feel inspiration that spreads throughout the student body. It may not portray what’s real about schools today but it reminds us of what teachers should do for their students. For the fight scenes and the inspiring message, it scored stars with me. Unfortunately, the lack of good jokes, a slow beginning, and unrealistic portrayal of a teacher caused it to lose points.

There Will be Blood

There Will be Blood is an epic film released in 2007 that gives a close look at a truly hateful opportunist. Having said that, believe it or not, it’s wonderful.

There Will be Blood is an epic film released in 2007 that gives a close look at a truly hateful opportunist. Having said that, believe it or not, it’s wonderful. It’s directed by Paul Thomas Anderson known for Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and the Master. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, and Ciarán Hinds.

IMDB says it’s “A story about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.” The protagonist’s name is Daniel Plainview. He is a shrewd and relentless oil prospector who almost dies a couple times before he strikes black gold and untold fortune. There is hardly any blood in this movie so don’t let the title steer you wrong. It takes place around 1900 but there are scenes before and considerably longer after that.

Plainview is one of those characters you detest with all that is human but at the same time you can’t take your eyes off his journey. This film treats us to the life of one man. I can see parts of myself in him and at the same time, I see a heart as black as midnight I would never compare to my own. We learn early on he hates people. That should be a clue about what’s to come. The ending is horrendous and somewhat unpredictable. I imagine a lot of people hated the ending. As for me? I can’t really see a better way to complete Plainview’s story. The question lingers for me: is Daniel Plainview’s money worth the human cost? While great in my view, it lost points by not having much real humanity portrayed. One example is, there are hardly any women in it. It could have been stronger if it showed more ordinary life. That would have served to contrast and showcase Plainview’s twisted madness. As it is, that is all we see. It could be better, but it’s great as it is.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises was a failure in my opinion, even in spite of its awesome motorcycle, due to boring and pointless scenes and under-developed characters.

The Dark Knight Rises was a failure in my opinion, even in spite of its awesome motorcycle, due to boring and pointless scenes and under-developed characters. Excessively long and pointless scenes follow an initial airplane hijacking that is admittedly one of the few innovative and exciting scenes. Unfortunately however, the boring stuff begins immediately after that and really never stops throughout the course of its seemingly unending 2hr 44min runtime. I think a lot of these boring scenes are due to the fact that the director didn’t try as hard because it’s part of such a successful franchise. Once a franchise is famous like the Dark Knight, movie makers boosted my McDonalds Value Meal Deals, action figures, and clothing lines likely lose their inner conscience about just making a good movie. They think whatever they do under that banner will be accepted and will make money. It appears that is the situation in this case, which is unfortunate. I think movie makers should always strive to make a movie interesting and engaging, regardless of the coattails of its predecessor. I found The Dark Knight Rises to be uninspired and completely off the mark of the 2 other prequels.

Under-developed motives for Bruce Wayne also left me cold on this one. There is little or no chemistry or motive in his love relationship with cat woman. In fact, cat woman nearly kills him a couple of times. His response to this is to fall in love with her and make her his partner? Bruce Wayne’s fortune is another bone of contention with me. He has lost every cent at the hands of his enemy and yet he has the means to appear healthy and relaxed drinking coffee and winking at Alfred at the end of the movie. What money bought the latte Bruce? We are in this scene as well as so many others expected to suspend disbelief. I have to say I grew tired of that mental exercise after the first hour. Besides that, the return wasn’t much to speak of.

Based on my negative impression of this film, I am not planning on seeing the next sequel which clearly will contain a Robin figure. That’s right, believe it or not, I am still not interested.

Magic Mike

Magic Mike is a film about Mike (Channing Tatum), a male stripper, and entrepreneur who takes a new younger stripper under his wing and teaches him the ropes. They have adventures that take them through waking up in vomit and meeting hot women with whom they take drugs with and sleep with. Mike wants to start a small business making furniture but the banks won’t lend to him because he had bad credit and a $13,000 stack of ones and fives. We are to assume these are his tips from stripping. Mike goes through a transformation in the course of the movie. Along the way, in between very predictable drama, there is actual stripping. We don’t see any penises but there are butts in thongs galore to keep the drunk women and gay men (I’m not saying all gay men will like the stripping), who go for that sort of thing, stimulated.

I was surprised that almost half this movie was not stripping. The commercials promoted it as a raunchy comedy for people who enjoy male stripping. My wife had planned to go see it with her girl friends but when they never went, I offered to take her since she seemed eager to check it out. It does have a dark story with bubble gum ending that at times is reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever. The characters are all flat and undeveloped and the stripping scenes are no more racy than what you’d see on a CSI episode.

In conclusion, I liked the way the producer and director attempted to give this film a story instead of just showing stripping for 2 hours. Unfortunately the story they gave us is unbelievable, slow, and most of all uninteresting. For that reason, I think this movie has very few people it will appeal to. It just wasn’t funny enough. By sheer demographics, it may not even break even on its budget. If it does do well, I’ll strip on Youtube for you. Here’s hoping it doesn’t!