movie thoughts: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect poster  Oh, this movie.  It is flawed on so many levels but the amount of fun you have during the musical numbers and when Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are improving in the announcer booth makes you forgive everything and then some.

Pitch Perfect reminds me of both Whip It and Zoolander.

Let me explain:

I feel like the ridiculousness factor is turned way up, just like Zoolander, which makes this movie tolerable during the parts when they are not singing.  Because Anna Kendrick is awesome and Rebel Wilson is hilarious (and Skylar Astin is Zachary Levi Adorable), you just keep watching even though you know the ending to the movie already.  But, as Jesse tells Beca in the movie, even if you know what ending is coming, it doesn’t mean you should stop watching!  Because if you stop watching, you will miss out on the most awesome acapella song mash-up ever at the very end.  Yes, it’s cheesy, but cheese is delicious!

Like Whip It, I’m pretty sure this movie takes the elements in the book to a new level.  I mean, as a fan of films and comic books, I feel like I spent a lot of time explaining to people why format can really make a difference.  I have requested a copy of the book so I can read it, but I have a feeling HEARING these groups perform, even though the groups are silly little “gangs” of singers in the movie, hearing the music and seeing a show is far more powerful than just reading about it.

The movie itself is not anything too amazing, but the music and the humor and the actors willing to go all out make is super fun to watch and you will be humming the songs for days to follow.

movie thoughts: ParaNorman (2012)

ParaNorman_posterIt’s always nice to be surprised by a movie.  When I picked up ParaNorman, I expected a quality film (the reviews had been very positive plus it was from the people who made Coraline) but what I didn’t expect was how sophisticated the story would be.

Norman can see and talk to ghosts.  He lives in Massachusetts in the fictional town of Blithe Hollow, which like most New England towns, has a past full of Puritans and persecution.  The town celebrates it’s most well known historical event – the hanging of a witch and the so-called curse she put on the town.  Now it’s up to Norman to stop the witch from causing the dead to rise.

But the story if far more than just a “walking dead for kids” tale.  As we start to learn more about Norman and the town’s past, it transforms from a zombie flick to a story about bullying and how our reaction to that shapes who we are.

ParaNorman was overshadowed by other summer releases and I think many of us missed it’s theater run, even though it was well reviewed.  But I think this is a movie that will gain a cult following among those who find it.  It has a wide age-range appeal (though we were a bit concerned by some of the random sexual things – like Neil freeze-framing his mom’s aerobics videos, though I’m sure jokes like that will fly over  young kid’s heads anyway.) and it is a movie the entire family can enjoy.  It is much smarter and more satisfying than Frankenweenie, another stop-motion “scary” movie for kids.

And, yes, it is all stop-motion, an art form that I am glad has survived into the new century because it is so beautiful and fascinating and cannot be beat.  It’s worth watching just for that.

Pick up ParaNorman on blu-ray.  It is a gorgeous movie with lots of humor and heart and just enough horror to spook the kid in all of us.