Matt Simply Loves

February 10, 2014

Matt Simply Loves Anna Kendrick: Rapture-Palooza

EXERCISE

Rapture-Palooza –Exercise

They say in love that you have to love someone completely.  It’s one of those rules that greeting card companies made up so many years ago.  Despite my surly demeanor most of the time, I sincerely subscribe to this notion.  I believe that you need to know a person inside and out to really love them.  However, it’s sad when that person you feel so much affection for stars in films that just seem below them and you can tell they are sleeping-walking throughout.  Anna, darling, why “Rapture-Palooza?”  It’s truly an exercise in “meh-filmmaking.”  It’s like when you see someone like Morgan Freeman in “Edison Force” or Tommy Lee Jones in “Man of the House.”  You shake your head, not because you’re upset, but because you’re disappointed.  My dear Anna, my Academy Award nominated Anna, 2013 should have been a great year for you, but instead we get “Rapture-Palooza.”

I know I sound disappointed, but I’m trying to hold it together.  “Rapture” is the story of Lindsey (Kendrick) and her boyfriend Ben (John Francis Daley) who are living in post-Rapture Seattle with a dream of running a successful sandwich cart.  After their cart is demolished by giant Apocalypse meteorites the couple have no choice but to put their plans on hold and try and work for The Beast/Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson).  After seeing Lindsey, The Beast decides that she will be the one to bear his next child.  With time running out, and their families lives on the line, Ben and Lindsey have to come up with a plan to stop The Beast.

The unfortunate part about “Rapture” is that it was overshadowed by another End of the World comedy in 2013, “This is the End,” also starring Craig Robinson.  However, the bigger problem with “Rapture” is the dragging nature of the film.  Daley doesn’t come off as someone who can carry a comedy, and is much better suited in ensembles like “…Waiting” and “Freaks and Geeks.”  Kendrick, while charming, is merely a vessel for the film to have some sort of fan appeal, and she doesn’t really have much to do in the film besides react to Robinson’s outrageous version of the Anti-Christ.

The star of “Rapture,” however, is Robinson.  Whenever he opens his mouth it’s pure solid gold, if said gold was covered in sex and cum-drenched jokes.  What makes his performance work is a combination of two things.  One, since Robinson is so likeable he can get away with saying some of the most offensive things you can say to a young, virginal, girl and you don’t feel bad laughing.  Two, Kendrick’s reactionary performance gives Robinson room to take his dialogue to the lowest of lows, and its hilarious throughout.

Outside of Kendrick and Robinson, the rest of cast is rather dull.  Rob Corddry plays a typical Rob Corddry character; he’s rude, vulgar, and at some point will yell something crazy about drugs.  Ana Gasteyer doesn’t bring much to the proceedings either.  The one surprise is Thomas Lennon as the undead neighbor of Lindsey who is obsessed with mowing his lawn.  It reminds me of one of Lennon’s many characters from his days as a member of “The State.”

At the end of the day, or world for that matter, “Rapture” is an exercise in love and patience, for me at least.  The film is rather ordinary and suffers from long droughts of exposition and not very thoughtful or funny dialogue. Only clocking in at 85 minutes, the film isn’t that long, but seems better  suited as a short film you might find at a student-run film festival. Without the performances of Kendrick and Robinson, “Rapture” would have been entirely forgettable.

Fun Fact:  The term “rapture” is never mentioned in the New Testament, but rather the term “caught up” in 1st Thessalonians 4:17.
February 6, 2014

Matt Simply Loves Anna Kendrick: Pitch Perfect

GUILTY

Pitch Perfect – Guilty

I’m really going to put myself out there with who I love this month. I could be cliche and pick an actor the likes of Mike Ruffalo (who I still might) or perhaps even Joaquin Phoenix, but I’m singing the praises, fittingly enough, of one special lady who by all accounts would be Jennifer Lawrence if Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence, if that makes sense.

I’m sucker for short girls with attitudes, and its the reason why I married one.  I guess I like a challenge and someone who can keep up with my smartassness.  That’s why I love Anna Kendrick.  She’s the perfect combination of spunky, deadpan, and cute.  She’s a proven indie darling and has the chops to hang with some of the biggest actors in Hollywood.

One thing I do find surprising about Kendrick, and I’ve mentioned this before in my “50/50” review, are all the negative comments she gets from critics, mainly over the things that she says.  Yes, she has a little bit of a potty mouth, but that’s what makes her even more charming and real.  So many young actresses want to act prim and proper and act like they need to impress everyone in order to get jobs and gain fans.  My belief is that being yourself is the only way to endear yourself to a much larger audience.  Just take a look at her Newcastle ad, it’s pure Anna, and it perfectly sums her up.

For the most part, you won’t find me watching many films that have a lot of musical numbers, or feature music as a main plot point.  What you might find me watching, however, are films that are either directed by Christopher Guest, which is ironic because I love “This is Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind.  Again, ironic, but there are exceptions to rules all the time, and 2013 found me watching “Pitch Perfect” starring the wonderful Anna Kendrick, over and over again.  Yes, it’s my biggest guilty pleasure of this past year.

“Perfect” is in fact pretty perfect, if you’re looking for unexpectedly funny performances, catchy-as-f*ck songs, and of course, Anna Kendrick.  Now, there are some cliches of course.  Anna plays the typical outsider role, full of angst and a tongue as sharp as her wit.  You have the Type-A leader, played by Anna Camp, who is also extremely extremely charming, and of course the fat girl comic relief, played by Rebel Wilson.  Yes, you’ve seen glimpses of this film if you’ve ever seen a “Bring It On” or “Step Up” film, but what sets “Perfect” apart is it’s dry wit and it’s actors who you might not think can bring the funny, and pleasantly surprise you.

As previously mention, “Perfect” follows Beca (Kendrick) a college freshmen who is more interested in moving to L.A. and paying her dues than her Intro to Philosophy class.  After an ultimatum by her father to move her out to California if she joins an extra-curricular activity, Beca decides that “organized nerd singing” is the way to go, as she joins the Barden Bellas, an all-female A Capella group.  Of course hijinks ensue, tension is created, and finally we have redemption come the very end where the Bellas win.  It’s typical of the “go to college and have an adventure” genre, but there is enough humor and heart to set it apart from the rest of a tired genre.

While “Up In the Air” garnered her her most critical acclaim, and “Twilight” gave her her largest film roll out, “Perfect” is Kendrick’s star-making performance.  It allows her to act, bring the comedy, and of course, sing.  Now again, I’m not the biggest fan of singing and musical, but for some reason, I find myself singing just about every time I watch this film.

Despite the fact that Kendrick is playing another teen cliche, as I mentioned earlier, she is still able to create a character that feels new and interesting.  The “mysterious alternative girl who secretly loves things” has been done since “The Breakfast Club” but Kendrick brings her wit, and spunky personality to the role that’s the harbinger for the entire film.  She’s the heart, soul, and engine that guides the story.  Beca is that girl you saw in school that you always wanted to say something to, but you noticed the giant “F*ck Off” on her forehead.  “Perfect” shows you one thing;  girls have a soft spot for 1980s films, and if you have an even half-way decent singing voice and red hair, you got a shot at that girl.

All in all, “Pitch Perfect” is one of those films that you might feel guilty for liking, until you see how many people actually love it.  So much so, “Pitch Perfect 2” is being fast-tracked, with the ever amazing Elizabeth Banks behind the camera, and Kendrick likely returning in the starring role once again.  So you’ll have to aca-scuse me, I have some singing to do.

Fun Fact:  Sorry Kristen Stewart fans, but Kendrick is the only actor from the “Twilight” series that has been nominated for an Academy Award in 2010’s, “Up In the Air.” 

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