Sophie’s Choice (1982)



Image result for sophie's choice


Choices, choices, none rejoices
When they’ve no choice but to choose.
How can anyone decide when
Every option sees them lose?

The mind will race, the conscience brace
For all the doubts of if and why
You chose the lesser of two evils
Or the road less traveled by.

Choices, choices, haunted voices,
More ashamed than they’ll admit.
The deepest burden of a choice is
Learning how to live with it.

MPAA rating: R (mainly for language)

I’m that strange sort of guy who doesn’t seem to care about spoilers. Of course, that only increases the value of twists or plot developments I didn’t see coming, but typically I have few qualms about reading up on a movie before seeing it. Thus, I was rather surprised that, as famous as Sophie’s Choice is, I didn’t really know what the titular choice was. I suspected it during the film, but watching it play out was no less gut-wrenching, thanks more than anything to an incredible performance by Meryl Streep.

Based on William Styron’s novel, Sophie’s Choice is what I call a Triple A movie, one that is All About the Acting, and I would encourage anyone who thinks of Streep as an overrated actress to see Sophie’s Choice and be reminded of her in her prime. She isn’t the narrator, though; that honor goes to a young Peter MacNicol as aspiring author Stingo, who moves into a New York boardinghouse, only to witness a furious break-up between Polish immigrant Sophie (Streep) and her lover Nathan (Kevin Kline). Before long, though, his neighbors make up and warmly welcome Stingo into their friendship, as well as their personal problems.

MacNicol is a rather dull protagonist, whose main role is as a framing device to learn about Sophie and Nathan. Kline, on the other hand, in his first film role, is almost as astonishing as Streep, even if he gets the bulk of the foul language. His extremes of eloquent camaraderie and profound hatred are electric and so intense that I was not surprised by the eventual explanation for his behavior. How he was not nominated for an Oscar that year, I will never know, especially when Charles Durning was for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! Come on, there’s no comparison! Even so, this movie is Streep’s forever, from her meticulously assumed Polish accent to her heart-breaking flashbacks where she speaks both Polish and German; it’s no wonder her performance is considered one for the ages.

While the two central performances in Sophie’s Choice are exceptional, it’s not a film I’d watch often, and it’s not simply because of the crushing sorrow involved. Depressing films can be some of the most powerful, like Grave of the Fireflies or The Elephant Man, and I love those films. Yet Sophie’s Choice falls into another category that leaves a certain profound emptiness. When an ending feels more like a waste than a misfortune, it’s harder to admire. I’m glad I saw Sophie’s Choice, a film that always brings my VC to tears and did this time as well, but it will be some time before I revisit its upsetting story.

Best line: (Sophie, to Stingo) “The truth does not make it easier to understand, you know. I mean, you think that you find out the truth about me, and then you’ll understand me. And then you would forgive me for all those… for all my lies.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S.G. Liput
414 Followers and Counting


Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy



This just in; here’s breaking news,
It seems that men have changed their views
On women in the workplace, though
If they’re aware, we do not know.

But we’ve confirmed, in quite a twist,
That girls don’t like a chauvinist.
In other news, there’s been a rise
In lies so we apologize.

In other other news, we’ve heard
Reports of news crew wars absurd.
Please call this number if you find
The missing arm they left behind.

And finally, I’d like to say
My hair looks terrible today.
Stay classy, San Diego. [sighs]
Who wrote this Teleprompter, guys?

MPAA rating: PG-13

I’ve never found Will Ferrell particularly funny, even in the much loved Elf, so what prompted me to check out one of his signature comedies? TCM. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was playing on Turner Classic Movies, and I found it hard to believe that it had already entered the pantheon of “classics.” Thus, I saw for myself, and while I’m not sure I’d consider it a classic, it managed to surprise me in more ways than one.

Like Baz Luhrmann’s dance romance Strictly Ballroom, Anchorman started out as clearly not my kind of movie and progressively got better and more successful. At the start, we’re introduced to mustachioed 1970s news anchor Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his San Diego newsroom cohorts (Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and a socially loopy Steve Carell). They’re the kings of their hill, and when Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is brought on as a new hire, they all prove their stupidity in trying to seduce her. The first half of the film succeeds only in confirming the four men as juvenile idiots and sexist pigs without much worthy of laughter, though Applegate is a needed tempering personality as she outshines her boorish coworkers.

There are a few moments of over-the-top chuckles, such as Ron’s flute performance and an animated dream sequence, but the film doesn’t really hit its stride until a certain battle scene. It seemed like the kind of scene that should be famous, but it caught me off guard with its celebrity cameos and ridiculous excess. Before that, maybe one out of ten jokes hit their mark, but by the time the bear-related climax rolled around, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Anchorman is easily Ferrell’s funniest and most quotable film that I’ve seen, and even if his character is extravagantly awkward, his unlikability improved with time. I suppose I most appreciated getting to see the context of famous lines I’ve heard quoted repeatedly, such as “That escalated quickly” and “I immediately regret this decision!” Anchorman’s appeal seems to lie in individual scenes of original randomness, whether shocking or laughable, and I can see why that’s enough for TCM to deem Anchorman a hit-and-miss classic.

Best line (aside from the two above): (Brian Fantana, wondering about real love) “I think I was in love once.”
(Ron Burgundy) “Really? What was her name?”
(Brian) “I don’t remember.”
(Ron) “That’s not a good start, but keep going….”
(Brian) “She was Brazilian, or Chinese, or something weird. I met her in the bathroom of a K-Mart, and we made out for hours. Then we parted ways, never to see each other again.”
(Ron) “I’m pretty sure that’s not love.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S.G. Liput
414 Followers and Counting


Star Trek Beyond (2016)


, , ,

Image result for star trek beyond

Space, the final frontier
Entices the brave pioneer.
Adventures await
When cadets graduate
At the start of a thrilling career.

Yet in between alien wars
And interdimensional doors,
The truth is that space
Can be one boring place
For a hero in search of encores.

Sometimes a more perilous foe
Must devastate our status quo,
Reminding us why
We decided to fly
And where we’re committed to go.

MPAA rating: PG-13

After the rebooted Star Trek had its glorious return in 2009 and its original-continuity-referencing sequel in 2013, it’s logical that the filmmakers for its third entry asked “What next?” Surely they thought it wise to distance Star Trek Beyond from the original series timeline and stories that so influenced the first two, and I’m glad to say they succeeded. Star Trek Beyond feels like it’s settled into the story-of-the-week format that the series had, and this particular story both references that potentially dull routine and spices it up with audacious sights we’ve never seen before.

The famous characters have already been established in prior films and pop culture, so the film doesn’t spend much time on new character development (aside from the brief but unnecessary implication that Sulu is gay). Yet the film still finds a way to insert emotional weight at the beginning, from a much more mature Kirk (Chris Pine) dealing with how the thrill is gone to Spock (Zachary Quinto) getting some sad news. We also get to see the eye-popping Yorktown, a space station so futuristically cool it makes you wonder why we’ve never seen it before in the Star Trek universe (though it does have visual echoes of Inception and Upside Down).

This setup is rather slow at the start, but once the action starts, it doesn’t let up. Before you know it, a swarm of bee-like ships are crashing into the Enterprise’s hull, and all hell breaks loose. Much of the crew become stranded on a nearby planet, hunted by a mysterious alien named Krall (Idris Elba). To make sure everyone in the ensemble gets their fair share of screen time, they’re split into twos, a method that works rather well in spreading the characters out and exposing them to different elements relevant to the plot. Also added is Sofia Boutella as another stranded ally named Jaylah, who helps the crew battle Krall.

Image result for star trek beyond

Being a fan of Star Trek: Voyager, I noticed that this latest film seemed to draw some inspiration from that show. In the third season episode “The Swarm,” Voyager runs into a fleet of small swarming ships not unlike Krall’s armada, and they even defeat the swarm in a similar manner, though admittedly with less style. Voyager also seemed to have more episodes where one or two crew members were stranded on alien planets, making that aspect of the film also feel more familiar.

Even more than the others, Star Trek Beyond is an action movie, with new director Justin Lin bringing some flair from his experience with the Fast and Furious franchise. The camerawork makes the running and explosions a bit more frenetic and hard to follow at times, but there’s no shortage of dynamic thrills. Several impressive scenes and set pieces just left me saying “Dang!” (in a good way, of course), though if there was any Trek movie I would not want to be a redshirt in, this is it. The effects are still awesome to behold, not least of which is “that scene,” the one so many reviewers have noted as being particularly over-the-top, for good or ill. I for one thought it was brilliant and spectacular, especially on the big screen, as well as a nice musical callback to the 2009 film.

The only place Star Trek Beyond seriously stumbled was the villain. Elba is all right as Krall, though hard to understand at times, but his character’s backstory was far too ambiguous. Why did he look the way he did? Where did the fleet of alien ships come from? I’m not sure if these questions were answered and I missed it, or if the writers just glossed over those details. Either way, it could have been clearer.

Of the reboot trilogy, I still love the first most, but Star Trek Beyond is just as good and more original than Into Darkness. Couple the rousing action with the bittersweet tributes to deceased cast members Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, and Beyond becomes a well-rounded addition to the Trek canon. Yelchin’s death, in particular, throws the future of the series into doubt, but I certainly hope that there are more Star Trek stories to tell.

Best line: (Krall) “You can’t stop it. You will die.”   (Kirk) “Better to die saving lives, than to live by taking them. That’s what I was born into.”


Rank: Top-100-Worthy (Joining Star Trek into Darkness)


© 2016 S.G. Liput
413 Followers and Counting


VC Pick: Roxanne (1987)



Image result for roxanne film


‘Tis no simple means
By which women are wooed.
‘Tis not for the boorish
Or foolishly rude.
The poets have proffered
And songsters suggest
What romantic remarks
Are the sweetest and best.

And men have spent centuries
On making sense
Of how to atone
After giving offense.
The language of love
Is a varied pastime,
And most would agree
‘Tis a mount worth the climb.

Fear not if you stumble
In stoking the flame.
The right words to women
Are rarely the same.

MPAA rating: PG

Roxanne, which my VC has been urging me to review for some time, features Steve Martin at his most charming. Martin himself adapted the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac (which interestingly provided the English language with the word “panache”) into this modern comedic retelling. The major events of the famous love triangle are faithfully translated from 17th century France to picturesque Nelson, Washington in the 1980s. Martin is C.D. Bales, the effortlessly charismatic fire chief who knows how to castigate those who insult his unusually long nose, while Daryl Hannah is his crush Roxanne, who is sadly enamored of the handsome numbskull Chris (Rick Rossovich).

To me, Roxanne is a film that excels in individual moments much more than the big picture. There are some brilliant comedic scenes, such as C.D.’s listing off twenty witty ways to insult his nose or the hilarious balcony scene (“I was afraid of worms, Roxanne! Worms!”), and I always get a good chuckle out of C.D.’s sexual teasing of a gaggle of gullible old ladies.

Yet, even with the verbal cleverness and the slapstick of C.D.’s bumbling fire crew, the romantic plot has never seemed particularly memorable to me. Martin certainly sells his eloquent passion for Roxanne, and Daryl Hannah is a beautiful love interest (a good normal role as opposed to her acting strange in Splash and Legal Eagles). Their love is worth rooting for, and I was reasonably satisfied by the end. Yet the original play concludes tragically, and Martin’s invented happy ending does feel rather easy and tacked on, earning just a smile rather than the grinning sigh that the best rom coms achieve. It may not make it one of my favorites, but Roxanne has enough “panache” to be a worthwhile charmer.

Best line: (C.D., telling some old ladies about supposed aliens in town) “They wanted to ask me about older women.”
(Nina) “Why?”
(C.D.) “Because they wanted to have sex with them.”
(Sophie) “Where?”
(C.D.) “Here! Right here in Nelson. They wanted to start a colony of supermen who would have sex with older women because they said, and I quote, ‘they really know what they’re doing.’”
(Lydia) “We do!”
(Sophie) “It’s been so long!”
(Dottie) “Oh, girls, girls! Do you actually believe that there are creatures from outer space who want to have sex with older women? [pause] Let’s go and check it out!”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S.G. Liput
413 Followers and Counting


Opinion Battles Round 20 – Favourite Clive Owen Role

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Clive Owen role in the latest Opinion Battle! I picked bank robber Dalton Russell in Inside Man, but there are actually more choices than you’d expect.

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 20

Favourite Clive Owen Role

Clive Owen was once tipped to be the next James Bond but now his star seems to have faded. He has been in some of the most respected films through his career but which one is our favourite?

If you want to take part in the next round of Opinion Battles we are picking our favourite Tom Cruise roles and you will need to send you entries to 16th October 2016.

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Theo Faron – Children of Mentheo

Theo is the lead in what is one of the most underrated movies of the latest century and it gives one f the best stories. We see how Theo has to risk his own life to potentially help save the human race from their impending extinction.

Kim – Tranquil Dreams

Theo Faron – Children of Mentheo-2


View original post 1,112 more words

Life, Animated (2016)



“Life as we know it” – a strange thing to say,
As if we all share every daily cliché,
As if you and I, in our habits and cares,
The views she retains and the burdens he bears,
All somehow add up to the same.

Life outside yours cannot fully be known;
Though we walk together, our paths are our own.
When other lives deviate, some may presume
Their paths are less worthy where tragedies loom,
And some may regard it a shame.

Life can have weakness without being weak.
Life can have sorrow without being bleak.
Support can be found where we least would suspect,
In plans that are clear only in retrospect,
In paths that are never the same.

Life in its innocence, life in its trials,
Life in its mirth and its merciless miles
Is something we each have the privilege to face,
Each life its own story and none a disgrace,
“Life as I know it,” by name.

MPAA rating: PG

One genre that I’ve barely scratched the surface of is documentaries. I’ve always thought of them as interesting and informative, but lacking in entertainment value. Seriously, would you rather watch a Disney movie or a documentary? (I know; depends on which one, right?) Not to mention, I’m always suspect of many “true” stories if there seems to be an agenda behind them. The few documentaries I’ve seen have been quite good (In the Shadow of the Moon, The Drop Box), but they haven’t whet my appetite to seek out others of their kind. Life, Animated has.

I actually had a unique opportunity with this film. It was being shown at a local theater that usually shows second-run movies for $2, but they were showing Life, Animated for free, presented by a local autism organization complete with a Q & A with Ron Suskind, the father of the film’s subject. That subject is Owen Suskind, who seemed like a normal child until he stopped talking at the age of three and was diagnosed with regressive autism. After years of silence, he found his voice again through the inspiration of Disney’s animated films. Donning a hand puppet of Iago from Aladdin, his father discovered that Owen would converse with him through the puppet. Over time, they were able to share conversations with dialogue memorized from Disney films, and Owen even learned to read using the names in the credits.

Life, Animated features a pleasantly non-linear style, jumping between 23-year-old Owen in the present day as he learns to be more independent and flashbacks to young Owen, often told through semi-animated drawings. Owen himself is winsome and naïve, still somewhat of a child who has come a long way and has far yet to go. My earlier suspicion of documentaries being potentially manufactured doesn’t apply to him, since he is inherently earnest and open whether a camera is there or not. Ron called this sincerity a “compensatory strength” to offset Owen’s social weaknesses and mentioned that the cameraman called him one of the best subjects he’d filmed.

Interspersed with Owen and Ron’s narration are a multitude of film clips from Disney classics and even an unexpected cameo from some voice actors. Honestly, I can’t imagine any bigger compliment to Disney filmmakers than this movie, a tribute to how their work literally helped to change Owen’s life, which might explain why they allowed the use of their fiercely guarded films for a reasonable price. As much as we all love Disney movies, they are mere entertainment to most of us, while to Owen, they were a lens through which he could understand daily life. In a world that was suddenly hard to make sense of, he latched onto this “scripted constant” that provided accessible insights, which the film’s editors managed to translate to the screen. When Owen and his brother regret having to grow up, they reference the likes of Mowgli and Peter Pan. When Owen talks about enduring bullying in school, we see Quasimodo’s flogging in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. When Owen suffers his first taste of romantic pain, we remember Ariel’s despair over Eric in The Little Mermaid. During Owen’s first night on his own, he watches Bambi.

Image result for life, animated 2016

The film’s most fascinating visual touch is two extended animated sequences of a story Owen wrote called The Land of the Lost Sidekicks, brought to life by the French animation studio Mac Guff. In a swirling, painterly style, Owen imagines himself as the protector of various Disney side characters, battling despair and darkness. It’s simple yet profound, like so much of Owen’s story. Owen was encouraged that Life, Animated showed him to be, not a sidekick, but on a hero’s journey, and the struggles and joys he goes through depict him as a person, rather than a collection of tics as autism may seem at first glance. As Owen relates during a climactic speech, those with autism can latch onto any number of fixations, and Disney films allowed him to comprehend a constantly changing world. During the Q & A afterward, Ron confirmed autism’s similar patterns when he and a young man in the front row, much like Owen, shared a few back-and-forth lines of dialogue from The Lion King. (I was also interested to learn from Ron that Owen has branched out into live-action films and enjoys the Dark Knight trilogy as well.)

It may not be saying much, but Life, Animated is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen, and despite its independent status, I do hope it gets some notice for a Best Documentary nomination during Oscar season. Not only does it ennoble the Disney canon as “human sagas of struggle and triumph,” but it provides an endearing look at how they helped shape one boy’s inspiring development. Owen’s family is a constant encouragement for him, worrying and helping him however they can, and one question his parents asked was particularly resonant: “Who decides what a meaningful life is?” Ron said his wife and he asked it many times, but Owen finally answered it. “I do.”

Best line: (see above)


Rank: No documentary has made me reconsider my opinion of them like this one, but I still can’t help but put them in a different category from “regular” movies. Thus, any documentary reviews won’t be eligible for my List but will just use a simple Five Star system, and this one is definitely worth Five Stars!


© 2016 S. G. Liput
413 Followers and Counting


My Top Twelve Movie Final Scenes

Image result for somewhere in time film


How a movie ends forms a large part of my opinion of it. Amazing films can be ruined by a bogus ending, while lackluster bores can be redeemed by a worthwhile finale. When a movie’s final scene stays with you long after the credits roll, you know the filmmakers have done their jobs well.

Here, I’ve decided to list my absolute favorite conclusions, not necessarily a film’s general ending but the very last scene before (or after) the credits. You’ll notice that I’m a sucker for the reunion or “together forever” kind of ending, which touches me on a personal level, especially with a powerful musical score behind it. The top three often bring me close to tears even.

To avoid spoilers, I won’t include a description of any of them (except #9), and obviously I recommend that everyone watch these films before seeing their conclusions. I count all of these films among my favorites, especially the endings.


  1. The Color Purple (1985)


  1. Millennium Actress (2001) (Sorry I couldn’t find a video with subtitles, but this video’s YouTube source does have the translation in its description; the emotion transcends the words, though.)



  1. Glory (1989)



  1. 1776 (1972) (Couldn’t find a video of this at all, but the signing of the Declaration of Independence always makes me feel as if I’m watching history itself.)
    Image result for 1776 film signing


  1. Places in the Heart (1984)



  1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (brief language warning for this one)



  1. The Way Back (2010)



  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)



  1. Inception (2010)



  1. Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)



  1. Titanic (1997)



  1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2004) (Again, no video of the ending, but this trailer gives a hint of the feels behind the best Hallmark movie ever made.)



And since there are so many amazing movie endings out there, I’ve included a host of runners-up that fit into different categories. What final scenes touch or encourage or thrill you the most? Feel free to let me know your favorites!



The Avengers (2012)
Ella Enchanted
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Image result for ferris bueller's day off ending


Epically cool:

Back to the Future
The Breakfast Club
Casino Royale (2006)
Escape from New York
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Iron Man
Men in Black
No Way Out (1987)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Image result for the breakfast club ending


All Quiet on the Western Front
Bright Star
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Driving Miss Daisy
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Les Miserables (2012)
Somewhere in Time
Toy Story 3
Image result for toy story 3 ending

(500) Days of Summer
“Crocodile” Dundee
The Dark Knight Rises
The Great Escape
The Iron Giant
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Music Man
The Passion of the Christ
The Princess Bride
Ruby Sparks
Sleepless in Seattle
The Truman Show
Whisper of the Heart

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
You’ve Got Mail
Image result for the dark knight rises ending

Being There
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Captain Phillips
Cast Away
Harold and Maude
The One I Love
The Shining
Wuthering Heights
United 93
The Usual Suspects
Image result for being there ending

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)



(Again, best sung to “Cups”)

When competition leads to victory,
One slip can worsen failure’s sting.
To erase disgrace and reclaim the first place,
Out of many, your harmony must sing.

Sing along, sing along,
Perhaps a right can fix a wrong.
You’re gonna meet the future soon
And you will meet it still in tune,
If you sing now and then all your life long.

MPAA rating: PG-13

Rarely has there been a sequel I so clearly enjoyed more than the original. Despite the fact that both Pitch Perfects were written by Kay Cannon, the screenwriter manages to overcome one of my main complaints about the first film –the lack of humor—with some greatly improved comedy.

The plot is essentially the same: a performance fiasco ruins the reputation of the Barden Bellas, which leads to training, a rivalry, tempers flaring, bonding, and a big musical face-off for which no one could possibly guess the outcome. Likewise, the characters haven’t changed much: Brittany Snow’s Chloe is now the obsessive Bella leader in place of Aubrey (who’s graduated but still gets some screen time), Hana Mae Lee’s Lilly still spouts bizarre non sequiturs, Ester Dean’s Cynthia-Rose still acts tough and gay, and Rebel Wilson’s “Fat Amy” is still her crude but fearless self. Yet when the stories and characters are so similar, the comedic differences shine all the brighter. I laughed more in the first twenty minutes of Pitch Perfect 2 than during the whole of the first film. Perhaps the characters simply grew on me with exposure, but they were all far more likable this time around. Some new characters were also welcome, such as Hailee Steinfeld as the amateur songwriter Emily and Chrissie Fit as a Latina constantly contrasting Chloe’s panicking with her own extreme Third World experiences. Again, the two a cappella commentators, played by Elizabeth Banks (who also directed this sequel) and John Michael Higgins, remain the most hilarious piece of the ensemble, especially when they throw political correctness out the window.

The one place that Pitch Perfect 2 may fall a bit short of the first is the music; the a cappella song-sampling is still full of catchy mixed beats from every era, but I was less familiar with the soundtrack as a whole (though I loved that the very first song was “Timber”). Even so, the sequel does try to outdo its predecessor, making the Bellas’ rivals a massive German collective who understand spectacle and turning the first film’s Riff-Off into a higher-stakes competition, even featuring the Green Bay Packers for some reason. Even if the main plot was identical, I did like the direction the subplots took. Aside from Fat Amy being paired with the man who threw a burrito at her in the first film, Beca had to realize that her experience with a cappella and mash-ups did not a music career make. Often hobbies we enjoy or even find success at don’t always translate into a practical vocation, and how Beca responded to that inconvenient truth felt like a real and worthwhile lesson for an otherwise silly movie.

Pitch Perfect 2 still isn’t quite the kind of film I gravitate toward, but it’s one I’d gladly see again. I wasn’t expecting much after the first film, but my low expectations allowed me to enjoy its sequel far more than I anticipated. With a third film on the way next year, I’m more optimistic for it now, and I hope they can conclude this trilogy in pitch perfect fashion.

Best line: (John, the commentator, during a Bellas performance) “An overweight girl dangling from the ceiling. Who hasn’t had that dream?”
(Gail) “Lots of us!”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© S.G. Liput 2016
413 Followers and Counting

Pitch Perfect (2012)



Image result for pitch perfect


(Best sung to “Cups”)

A cappella singers need a team.
It doesn’t work when on your own.
Voices merge, converge, and to new heights they surge
As a chorus of perfect pitch and tone.

Sing along, sing along,
It doesn’t matter what’s the song.
You’re gonna be the coolest nerds
If you remember all the words,
And you sing one for all, just sing along.

MPAA rating: PG-13

Yep, there’s a competition for everything, even a cappella singing, so it was only a matter of time before Hollywood found a way to make a movie out of it. I for one enjoy a cappella, especially modern groups like Pentatonix, and I was actually well familiar with this film’s soundtrack long before I saw it, in particular Anna Kendrick’s rendition of the “Cups” song. I had hoped that Pitch Perfect‘s comedy could match the quality of its music, but that was obviously too high a bar. I came for the music, and ultimately I stayed for the music since Pitch Perfect had little else going for it.

After the Barden Bellas are humiliated at the highest collegiate competition, only Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow, whose voice I know from Whisper of the Heart) carry on the mantle of the disgraced singing club and must recruit a winning new team. Enter the rest of the cast through auditions both chuckle-worthy and cringe-worthy. While jokes are made at the few members who fail to stand out, the key characters are well-distinguished, most notably the unabashed “Fat Amy” (Rebel Wilson), who introduces herself as such, and the quietly weird Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), whose barely audible voice makes one wonder why she was even recruited at all. And then there’s Anna Kendrick as Beca, the sensible outsider with musical career aspirations and a good ear for mash-ups. Unsurprisingly, the disparate group must all work together to overcome Aubrey’s control-freak tendencies and Beca’s independence and beat out their favored rivals, the Treblemakers, who aren’t necessarily better, just more exuberant.

There’s not much in the plot that hasn’t been seen before; in fact, the sequence of events in the competition is almost identical to another musical film from the same year, Joyful Noise. The characters are what should set Pitch Perfect apart, and they only half succeed. Quirks and characterization abound, but when the word b*tch is thrown around so much, it’s unfortunate that it fits most of the cast at one point or another. Plus, I found it odd that, instead of the biggest jerk of the film being brought down a peg as is usual, he was actually rewarded and sent away. In addition, I have yet to see an instance in any film where a vomit gag is anything but gross; when will screenwriters realize that throwing up just isn’t funny? That goes for many of the other jokes too, with the key exception of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the barb-trading a cappella commentators. They were a hoot, even if their criticism of the Bellas didn’t always seem deserved.

I don’t mean to sound totally negative since it’s not as if Pitch Perfect tries to be more than dumb fun; that’s what it is for the most part and excels mainly on the musical side of things, which is the reason the film exists in the first place. Every musical number was entertaining with several being sensational, and it was enjoyable to hear well-blended mash-ups of songs I hear often on the radio and my own iPod. Besides the music, I also loved the movie plugs of Skylar Astin as Jesse, Beca’s Treblemaker would-be boyfriend, who had the most charm of any character and introduced Beca (and maybe a teenage viewer or two) to The Breakfast Club.

As I said before, I watched Pitch Perfect for the music, and that’s the main reason to see it, along with the pretty (but crass) girls singing it. The sometimes quotable dialogue, both sharp and blunt at the same time, may not carry as much humor for me as I’d like, but the film at least did justice to the ear-pleasing appeal of “organized nerd singing.”

Best line: (Gail, one of the commentators) “The Barden Bellas went deep into the archive for that song, John. I remember singing it with my own a cappella group.”
(John) “And what group was that, Gail?”
(Gail) “The Minstrel Cycles, John.”
(John) “Well, that’s an unfortunate name.”


Rank: Honorable Mention


© 2016 S. G. Liput
413 Followers and Counting

And here’s the music video for “Cups” or “When I’m Gone,” directed by Pitch Perfect‘s director Jason Moore; I love long, complex takes, so this is one of my favorite music videos.

Genre Grandeur – Captain Phillips (2013) – Rhyme and Reason

Here’s my contribution to MovieRob’s September Genre Grandeur of Realistic Movies. I reviewed Captain Phillips, a docudrama that feels powerfully in-the-moment.

gg-sepFor this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Realistic Films, here’s a review of Captain Phillips (2013) by SG of Rhyme and Reason

Thanks again to Prime Six for choosing this month’s interesting and unique genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Diego of Lazy Sunday Movies. We will be reviewing our favorite Psychological thrillers.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Oct by sending them to  Try to think out of the box! Great choice Diego!

Let’s see what SG thought of this movie:



Captain Phillips (2013)

They talk of risk in every field, for no job is without it,

But rarely do we fear the threat, although we do not doubt it.

Routines mundane increase our sense of safety, and it shows;

We’re not paid for, or so we think, worst-case scenarios.

Surprised then by inevitable danger or a crisis,

Our fortitude…

View original post 519 more words