Saturday, 30 May 2015

Movie Review: Boychoir (2015)

With how pseudo-academic these reviews must sound at times, today’s film seems like the sort of film I should be reviewing as opposed to something like the Pitch Perfect series. Something deeply cynical in my brain, that is to say my entire brain, wants me to believe that Pitch Perfect 2 and this film being out as the same time isn’t a coincidence: Both featuring vocal groups, with the former focusing on Top 40 hits and the latter on classical works and hymns; Hansen vs. Handel, if you will, except the bout is being done on-screen instead of on Epic Rap Battles Of History… hmm… I should remember to suggest that at some point. At any rate, today’s film is the latest offering featuring one Dustin Hoffman and features vocal ranges that the human voice should not be able to reach: Boychoir.

The plot: After the death of his mother, Stet (Garrett Wareing) is sent to the prestigious National Boychoir Academy boarding school by his estranged father (Josh Lucas). His teacher Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman) sees his natural talent for singing and tries to nurture it, but his attitude and inability to work with his classmates, namely Raffi (River Alexander) and lead singer Devon (Joe West), threaten his education. However, Stet is determined to overcome his obstacles and background and prove himself as part of the Boychoir.

Aside from putting a major focus on the writing aspect of films I watch, the other big trend I’ve been noticing with my reviews is that I keep pointing out tried-and-true story archetypes that readers have no doubt seen before. At times, it feels like I’m being more than a little hypocritical about pointing out writing that just seems to be repeating a lot of what came before it. But, I find myself having to do it once again here as this is a pretty copy-and-paste underdog story. Hell, it almost feels like the film is actively taunting the audience with how basic it is given how one of the first moments of the film is Stet walking on the literal wrong side of the tracks. We also have a drunkard, insinuated-to-be-a-prostitute mother, a douchebag birth father played by Dick McPunch-A-Bruce from Ang Lee’s Hulk, a teacher who sees the main’s talent and wants to see him grow, and a rival who is cartoonishly evil in the form of Devon. Seriously, the scene where Devon tries (and kind of hilariously fails) to screw over Stet during a performance was only missing a bolt of lightning and maniacal laugh with how bizarre it looks. Oh, and his classmates constantly flip-flop throughout the film about whether they continue taunting him alongside Devon and Raffi or be his friends. Not to say that there aren’t legitimate reasons for both, as the rest of the students earned a placement in the Academy while Stet’s father literally bought his way in, but a bit of consistency would have helped.

Okay, so the story and quite a bit of the dialogue are stock and kind of ridiculous in places. But how do the actors carry it off? Really, the only reason I could ever find myself recommending this film as a whole is for the acting as the cast here is quite good. The last film I saw starring Dustin Hoffman was Little Fockers, which holds a special place for me as the first movie I saw post-Critic that I flat-out did not like. As such, Hoffman could have gone full Pacino here and hammed it up to the extreme and it still would have been an improvement over that bit of excretia. He really works here as the stern conductor because, while he is still written in a pretty basic role, Carvelle is a few touches more realistic than most others I’ve seen here. He has the typical want to see the protagonist succeed but it isn’t nearly as blind as I’ve seen elsewhere as, while he admits that Stet is a talented singer, he knows that Stet’s attitude towards his craft and lessons could jeopardize that and that he needs to change that for himself. Hoffman carries this off with a lot of conviction and easily makes for the focal point of the film where most of the entertainment can be derived from. Josh Lucas may be playing a pretty blatant asshole throughout the film, given the rather douchey way he keeps talking at the other characters and his complete inability to leave well enough alone, but his filmography has proven that he can play that role exceptionally well and this is no exception. Eddie Izzard as the taciturn Drake is a nice balance between abrasively British and entertainingly smug that A Royal Night Out couldn’t manage, and makes for a fun scene-stealing role. Garrett Wareing may not be as experienced as most of the cast here, given this is his feature film debut, but he does surprisingly well at keeping up with Hoffman, Izzard and even Kathy Bates' school headmistress. As much as I rag on this film not being the most original thing in the world, I will give credit where it’s due in that the opening scene with Stet in his music class does a superb job of introducing us to his character in such a short amount of time… not entirely sure if this is a good thing overall, as it boils him down to being a little too simple in terms of development but it’s a neat scene nonetheless.

Given how this is a film devoted to the inner workings of a choir, talking about the music is mandatory at this point. Now, while the singing itself doesn’t really work for me as my ears aren’t exactly well-tuned for higher pitched tones which make up most of the songs here, this film gets points for giving the singing itself some deeper meaning. The scene where Hoffman explains to Stet the effect that their singing has on the audience, invoking a religious devotion to his work while simultaneously admitting that he isn’t the most traditionally religious person out there. Even if it didn’t necessarily have the same effect on me, the way Hoffman and his dialogue portray it makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, though, the ending is hideously tacked-on in its attempts to add an element of mysticism to the inevitability of growing up within the context of a choir. Sure, it could have worked had it been given more screen time to develop as opposed to just being strapped to the tail-end of the film, but it ultimately just feels forced. At the very least, this plot point leads to the extremely stirring credits song Mystery Of Your Gift as sung by Josh Groban, variations of which are comprise most of if not all of the film’s score.

All in all, clichéd? Yep. Silly in places? Most definitely. Ultimately bad? Honestly, if you have the right musical tastes for the choir music that is the main focus of the film, then the acting can make this a decent watch. It’s definitely good to see a film that stars Dustin Hoffman that actually knows how to use him for a change, but then again that might only be comparative. But, as over-analytical as I am, I can at least see a use for another underdog story in cinemas as opposed to a lot of other films I’ve seen this year. It’s better than A Royal Night Out, as there’s no real moment of genuine annoyance like a lot of the smugly British dialogue was in that film. But, even if the music here is relatively better, Far From Men put a lot more effort into the overall production far as I can see.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This review marks the first of three films in the next couple of months that will require me to brush up on my 80s-90s action series… which should have come around a lot sooner than this, considering these are the kind of films that are required viewing for any self-respecting movie buff, but better late than never. The first Mad Max film furthers the thinking that the biggest of accomplishments come out of the smallest of budgets, as the visual aesthetic, characterization and overall grit of the film highlight some of the best that Australian cinema has to offer. Unfortunately, the follow-ups didn’t hold up nearly as well for me: Road Warrior was rather dull given how many times I’ve seen its Western-inspired plot and character development, despite being easily one of the most influential films of all time; and Beyond Thunderdome joins the list of films that make me question anything Rotten Tomatoes has to say. I was expecting 80’s cheese, but what I was given was literal pig shit. So, based on what came before it, my expectations aren’t that high given how we have approximately one-and-one-quarter good films to go on. But does this film at least deliver on the promise of fire-spewing electric guitars? This is Mad Max: Fury Road.

The plot: Max (Tom Hardy) is a wanderer in the Australian Outback who is made a prisoner of the despotic Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). When one of Joe’s highest ranking officers, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), goes AWOL with Joe’s breeding stock of wives in tow, Max finds himself in the middle of a conflict between Furiosa and Joe’s entire army of War Boys. Forced to work together, Max and Furiosa need to make their way out of Joe’s reach and to the Green Place where they can all be safe.

In the ensuing 30 years between this film and Beyond Thunderdome, lead star Mel Gibson has become the anti-Semite that the world loves (to hate/mock/ridicule and everything in between), director George Miller has largely worked on family films like the Babe and Happy Feet series and the post-apocalyptic leather-clad roadster setting has gone on to inspire some of my favourite media like the Fallout series, Saw (the final scene of the first film is one of the bigger inspirations for that love-it-or-hate-it franchise) and a near-endless barrage of ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ jokes. Given all this, Fury Road has a lot riding on it beyond just the promise of GWAR-inspired musical weaponry. Yeah, in case it isn’t obvious yet, seeing that guitar in the trailer is the sole reason I wanted to check this film out and decided to go back and do my homework for it. All things weird stick out for me, what can I say? Now, while I want to furiously query about why exactly Miller decided to resurrect this series after so much time had passed, this might be the absolute best time for this series to get a reboot/sequel (not entirely sure which one this is). With so many third-wave YA adaptations portraying such derivative and ultimately nonsensical variations of society after a major cataclysmic event, it makes perfect sense that Miller, one of the progenitors of the sub-genre, would want to come back and show these kids how it’s meant to be done.

It’s kind of surprising, given the presence of the Pyro’s favourite pastime, how grounded this film is. Not to say that there isn’t a lot of insanity to be had here; far from it, as this may be the first time that the titular character earns his nickname of Mad Max. It’s quite a tall order to out-crazy Mel Gibson on screen (in hindsight, at least), but Tom Hardy embodies that primal survival-of-the-fittest mindset while also showing that he isn’t stupid at the same time. One of my biggest gripes with the original film is how, despite the character’s mental state being a main thread throughout the film, he only really turns into Miffed Max by the end. Here, the adage about who is crazier in the film has weight behind it, as Max is shown to be just as savage, if not more so, than Immorten Joe and the War Boys. Said War Boys are pretty damn manic as well, embodying the kind of literal Viking mindset that would even make some people on Godlike Productions question their sanity. The reason why this film is as grounded as it is really boils down to the fact that not only is all the roadkill crazy played dead straight, but it is given an astounding level of pathos that makes it all work together. Between Max’s trauma over the people that he wasn’t able to save, Furiosa and War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult)’s paralleled arcs involving their beliefs of going to a better place and the way that Immorten Joe’s empire is explained without any egregious exposition, this is the kind of characterization and world-building that does everything right where the Divergent series royally fucked up. Without a doubt, the most ingenious bit of writing at work here is the idea behind the War Boys themselves: These people have stunted life-spans, due to being bred solely for war, so Immorten Joe instills in them a Viking mentality that sees their inevitable death as something to aspire to rather than something to fear. Something that simple that explains so much, without needing to bring it screaming into the forefront of the film, is the kind of writing that I sincerely wish was used more often in mainstream cinema. Or, to put it in more honest terms, it’s fucking brilliant.

And while we’re on the subject of things I wish were more prevalent in movies nowadays, something in the back of my head tells me that George Miller wanted to pull a fast one on the audience in the best way possible with Fury Road. The main plot centers around the movement/retrieval of women as property, something that feels like it was pulled from a MRA’s deepest fantasies, and yet this film might have some of the most active female supporting characters I have seen in a very long time. I make no qualms about the fact that I don’t really see eye-to-eye with modern feminist doctrine, mainly due to it employing a lot of “what’s good for the goose” double standards from what I’ve seen, but to go from the very uncomfortable rape scenes that the series started out with to this is mystifying. Ultimately, it’s Theron who ends up doing most of the work with Max as her backup and the Wives in tow all contribute something to the action and don’t act like the property Joe treats as them as at any point. Abbey Lee brings a heavy dose of Australian humour to the mix as The Dag, Zoe Kravitz makes up for some of her involvement in the Divergent films as the gun-savvy Toast, Riley Keough as Capable works great with Nicholas Hoult and creates one of the most natural man-woman relationships on film that isn’t overtly romantic, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, in a move that Dark Of The Moon could have benefitted from, doesn’t do too much talking but still manages to give the film its single most bad-ass image in standing up to and staring down Immorten Joe with a gun pointed at her. Oh, and Aussie actress Megan Gale redeems her quite racist depiction of a Turk in The Water Diviner as Valkyrie, who more than lives up to her name as a strong warrior woman.

The fact that the women stand out as much as they do and potentially put the titular Max into a side role has got a lot of Men Rights Activists in a tiff… which is kind of funny, considering how this film also doesn’t sit so well with some feminists either. It’s like Gone Girl all over again, only the character(s) in question isn’t nearly as hateful. So, is this a feminist film, or more specifically the piece of feminist propaganda that people claim it is? Well, to put it simply, I don’t care. All I know is that this is a film that doesn’t waste its focal cast, which along with everything else I’ve mentioned continues the series’ tradition of likeable and weirdly understandable villains through Immorten Joe. Of course, that might be the case because this isn’t actor Hugh Keays-Byrne’s first time as a Mad Max villain, having previously played Toecutter in the original. This is a film that has female characters that, while they may have been written with their femininity at the forefront, are pro-active and actually do shit that matters in terms of the action on screen; in today’s day and age, this should be the norm, not something that people feel the need to draw explicit attention to for one reason or another.

With all of this talk about the inner workings of the writing, acting and gender politics, I haven’t yet brought up the most important part of any action movie: The action scenes. Well, as much as I’ve gushed about the Fast & Furious series previously, I’m not really all that big on action set pieces involving cars. Hell, the main reason why I like that series as much as I do now is because, since Fast Five, it’s started to distance itself from just car races. A lot of the action that takes place in this movie is on the titular Fury Road with Furiosa’s tanker against Immorten Joe, the War Boys and the speaker-laden truck carrying the firestarting rocker and yes, that eye-catcher is a prominent part of most of the action scenes. To make things even weirder, I can kind of get why he is as prominent as he is; in my head, I see him as providing a soundtrack for the army to charge into battle, adding to the macho Valhalla-driven mindset of the War Boys. This is high-octane action in every sense of the term, with lots of heavy collisions, sparks flying and fossil fuel burning however they can. Even with my diminished interest in vehicle action, this feels like a weird midway point between the other two big action movies out right now: Age Of Ultron and F&F 7. It has the high-speed ingenuity of Fast & Furious but it doesn’t venture down the same road of cartoon physics and instead plays it straight like Avengers did. All of this, backed by the mildly repetitive yet blood-pumping score of weighty drum beats and orchestral strings and choirs courtesy of Junkie XL, makes for amazing looking and feeling set pieces.

All in all, even when ignoring whatever gender message(s) could be read into this film, the writing is among some of the best I’ve seen so far this year, the acting is on point across the board with a very understated but powerful turn from Hardy as Max himself, the action scenes are extremely visceral and well put together, despite a surprising lack of gore for an MA15+ release, and the overall aesthetic stays true to its roots while still feeling fresh and up to date. In all honesty, I consider this to be a new high point for the series and, in a year that has already given audiences some truly great action flicks, this is among one of the best so far. This ranks higher than Avengers: Age Of Ultron, as this in no way feels bloated and actually managed to surpass any hype I had for it in a way that Avengers never did, but ultimately I still got emotional fulfillment out of Big Eyes; at this rate, Big Eyes is going to become this year’s Edge Of Tomorrow/cinematic roadblock. Get rid of whatever preconceptions of feminism you’re expecting to get from this and check this thing out; even as someone who isn’t massively into the series as a whole, I give this film a giant propane-spewing recommendation for action hounds and cult film lovers everywhere. Hell, even if that isn’t your thing, the writing and characters may just convert you.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Since I’ve already given my spiel about Rebel Wilson in my review of the first film, I’m going to just cut the crap and get right to it: This is Pitch Perfect 2.

The plot: After a wardrobe malfunction at a performance for the President, Bec (Anna Kendrick), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and the rest of the Borden Bellas have been disgraced and suspended from competing in the college-level a cappella circuit. In order to regain their honour, they instead compete at the international level at the World Championships in Copenhagen against the German team Das Sound Machine, led by Pieter (Flula Borg) and Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen).

Honestly, even though the first film left me hyped for this thing, there were a number of things that were niggling at me about it. For one, while Kay Cannon returns as screenwriter, direction has been handed over to Elizabeth Banks… and her last effort as director was as part of the cinematic blackmail offense that was Movie 43, with the segment about Chloe Grace-Moretz getting her first period and all the men having no idea what to do about it. Still, 43 didn’t stop James Gunn from being awesome with Guardians Of The Galaxy, so I can let that past. Secondly, there's the first few moments of the film with Banks and John Michael Higgins as returning colour commentators Gail and John; to put it simply, John sounds like his prior misogyny has been ramped up Lou Dorchen style. However, while it does get annoying at some points, his interactions with Gail work rather well and make for a nice Dallas-Juanita dynamic. Obscure game references for the win. The third and final thing that got to me, and by far the one I was most worried about, is what has happened to the state of pop music in between films. Namely, that 2013 and 2014 have been among some of the worse years for popular music in the last few decades: Dance (A$$), Wiggle, Whistle, fucking Anaconda; it’s been a serious rough patch. Now, while this film maintains the previous installment’s knack for great song selections for the a cappella arrangements, there are a few wack songs that sneak through the cracks; I don’t care how ironically you use it over a pillow fight, Jason Derulo’s Trumpets needs to be eradicated with extreme prejudice. Or just eradicate Derulo himself; that works too.

While we’re on the subject of the soundtrack though, this is definitely good but it’s missing the punch of what came before. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they kind of screwed up with the Das Sound Machine sequences; and by that, I mean they seriously stand out leagues beyond what the Bellas pull off. It’s a weird sensation rooting for the obvious bad guys, but when that rendition of Muse’s Uprising starts up, I suddenly found myself not giving two shits about what happens to Beca and the rest of the girls. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously Das Sound Machine create a very big threat for our protagonists and continue with series tradition with opponents that actually stand a chance of beating them; between that and their World Final performance, they make for tough competition. The Bellas here are no slouches though, managing to turn the meme-heavy headache of Wrecking Ball into something that’s worth listening (even if they use it for some cheap laughs at Rebel’s expense in more ways than one) as well as actually making me notice the Cups song this time around. Yeah, there was a reason I left that out of my last review: Because it wasn’t all that memorable against everything else that was shown (and sung) on screen. This time, though, they use it to decent emotional effect as a bonding song for the girls. We also get a re-hash of the riff-off here, this time accompanied by Reggie Watts and the Green Bay Packers (yeah, I don’t get it either), and they immediately get points for using the category ‘songs about butts’ and not singing Anaconda. They may lose them again by starting with Sisqo’s ode to thongs, but it’s a gesture that’s still appreciated.

So, with the music still being good, do we get the same problem with the weak writing? Well, aside from a bit too much re-hashing beyond the riff-off scene, this film manages to balance out the painfully awkward moments with really funny lines a lot better than the first one. Another one of my worries going into this is that, given how much Fat Amy walked away the break-out character, the film would focus a lot more heavily on her to everyone else’s detriment. That kind of happens, but it ultimately only results in her getting more one-liners, a lot of which are really damn good and almost feel like she’s doing some good-natured riffing on the film she’s in, an idea that actually works in her hands. On the more serious notes, this film makes a good decision and follow Step Up’s example of having each film showcase a different aspect of the art form: The first film was about bringing fresh ideas to the table, whereas this one is about bringing original ideas to the table; this is greatly helped by the choice to showcase IRL a cappella groups like Pentatonix and Penn Masala at the World Championships.

Thankfully, none of the mains are Flanderized like John Smith was and stick to their largely singular jokes: Lilly is a low-talker and hilariously creepy; Cynthia-Rose identifies as a lesbian before anything else; Stacie is highly sexualized and Beca is still a technically sound music producer. The only one who seems to have gone through any major changes is Chloe, who seems to have absorbed Aubrey’s obsession with making the group win; not quite to the same extent as her, but within that same ballpark. Among the newcomers, we get Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Junk-Hardon (and yes, it’s pronounced exactly like you think it is *sigh*) who… is good, but it would help if it didn’t sound like she was trying to do a Sia Furler impression the whole time, and no, Sia co-writing Flashlight isn’t a good enough excuse; Chrissie Fit as Flo, whose schtick is jokes about being an illegal immigrant that just stop the film dead for a few moments at a time; Borg and Sørensen as the deliciously evil antagonists, who manage to deliver some nice burns to the Bellas; Keegan-Michael Key as Beca’s boss, who makes for an intimidating boss who isn’t obnoxiously mean to everyone, save for the one hipster that works for him that is his whipping boy but that at least made for some really good lines; and Snoop Dogg as himself. And in case there’s any doubt, him singing Winter Wonderland is nothing short of amazing to watch unfold; good to see him being charming and lame again, as opposed to boring and lame like he was back in his Snoop Lion days.

All in all, this film does a minor swap with the production elements, in that the music is a bit weaker while the innards are a bit stronger. The a cappella segments are still great, and Das Sound Machine are just fantastic on stage, but a lot of me misses the awesome mash-up soundtrack and the song choices aren’t quite as good; meanwhile, the funny moments work a lot better, with Fat Amy getting most of the better one-liners, and the annoying moments are far more infrequent. At the end of the day, this may not be as good as the original overall and might be a bit samey, but this is still a pretty good film and I definitely recommend it to fans of the original… although, given how many sold-out screenings of this thing that there have been, chances are most of you already have. It’s better than Paper Planes, as this has just as much charm but can be enjoyed with far less cynicism, but I can’t help it, The SpongeBob Movie left me in a far better state of glee than this did… Actually, I’d seriously hate it if this left me in a state like I had just watched Glee; another positive!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

As I hop on the years-past train again to do some catch-up before checking out a new release, I find myself face-to-face with someone I’ve been meaning to let loose about for quite some time: Rebel Wilson. I made brief mention of her rather grating turn in Night At The Museum 3, but I didn’t really get into what I think about her. Specifically, how baffled I am that, of all the Aussie stand-ups I’ve seen, she was the one to become a break-out star in the U.S. Having seen her older work, like The Wedge, Pizza and some of her stand-up material that largely consisted of standard Boganisms about Frankston (think the Australian version of New Jersey; a place that is the butt of every joke by hack comedians), I just don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, good fucking on her for giving proper Australian comedy some overseas attention, but I’m guessing it’s because she kind of blindsided everyone that she got where she did and my proximity to her early work is why I don’t get it. In any case, time to look at the film that officially brought her to the attention of most U.S. audiences: This is Pitch Perfect.

The plot: Beca (Anna Kendrick), a budding DJ and freshman at Barden University, joins the a cappella group the Barden Bellas led by commanding traditionalist Aubrey (Anna Camp). In order to win against opposing group the Treblemakers, and make up for an embarrassing performance the previous year, Aubrey brings together a new group of vocalists, including Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), but Beca and her butt heads when their well-worn set list fails to work for them.

This film starts out much the same way as Unfriended, in that it immediately impressed me right from the Universal Studios ident. An a cappella arrangement of the Universal theme… okay, film I was initially putting off seeing for the longest time, you now have my attention. Then, over the opening credits, we get a mash-up of Young MC’s Bust A Move and Azealia Banks’ 212. Between these two, it marks a perfect start to a damn good soundtrack… provided that Top 40 radio doesn’t make you want to see what a bloody severed eardrum looks like and use your own as a test subject. But even with that in mind, I’m not even that big a fan of some of the songs they use here but the a cappella arrangements of them really work here: The opening rendition of Rihanna’s Don’t Stop The Music serves well at making the Treblemakers look like a legit challenge, Kelly Clarkson’s Since You’ve Been Gone becomes an a cappella orchestra of sorts to showcase what the individual singers are capable of and a later rendition of Miley Cyrus’ Party In The U.S.A. might be one of the few times that enjoying music ironically has been effectively portrayed on screen. The apex of all this comes with the Step Up-esque Riff Off, ending on a serious frisson-causing cover of No Diggity; I knew that Anna Kendrick had pipes from her role as Cinderella in Into The Woods, but wow. She’s not alone in that, either: Singer Ester Dean as Cynthia-Rose does really well here, showing that her once collaborating with pop-rap punchline Soulja Boy hasn’t had any ill effects, Brittany Snow as second-in-command Chloe brings in the same skills she showed off in Hairspray, and Rebel Wilson… maybe it’s because I haven’t watched Bogan Pride yet, but I was blindsided by just how good she is, both on her own and as part of the Bellas. I may not have a lot of experience with acappella myself, aside from a bit of beatboxing, but I know what I like and I’m really digging this.

Then we get to what fills in the gaps between the music and things aren’t nearly as consistent. It seems to waver quite heavily between passing the bar into adorkable and just plain annoying. I’m thankful that they toned down the fact that Rebel Wilson is an Aussie, but the script still takes poorly juxtaposed time out to drop hints that she is Australian. We get it; stop treating us like seals and thinking you need to beat us over the head to get what you want. Also, if you’re like me and groaned at the ‘pitch-slapped’ pun on the movie poster, then strap yourself in because that’s the tamest of the puns to be found here. I got a mild chuckle out of them saying to leave the ‘acapolitics’ of it, but otherwise this gets annoying pretty quick. Outside of the dialogue, the plot is pretty by-the-numbers as well: Outsider joins a club, club leader doesn’t like how she wants to change things, break-up, make-up, win big competition, roll credits. At least the characters that fill in the story fit the bill, or else I would completely sideline this as a film designed to push the soundtrack and nothing else. Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin) work as an on-screen couple, not to mention making for a third-act break-up that works a lot better than others, Aubrey may be a complete cad for the most part but she’s definitely dialed back and makes the film as a whole run smoother as a result, and it might be my tendencies for the jarringly dark but Lilly makes for some of the funniest moments in the film. Yeah, half the joke is what you can’t hear her saying, but what she actually is saying if you listen close enough… that is black belt flying under the radar if ever I heard it. Hell, even with all the heavy hinting-at, I can even get into Rebel’s persona here as well.

All in all, while the innards may have some problems scattered throughout, the music forgives almost all sins and makes a seriously good watch for the more musically-inclined out there. I would say just grab the soundtrack and leave out all the potentially aggravating moments, but this is where context makes some of the better moments like the riff-off not hit as hard through just the audio so… yeah, I definitely recommend checking out the film proper. This ranks higher than 21 Jump Street, as this got over its teething issues a lot quicker, but despite how disjointed it felt, I still got more out of Looper as a film overall.