Tag Archives: anna kendrick

‘The Account’ Fun and Thrilling Shoot-em-up

The_Accountant_(2016_film)First Sam Rockwell in “Mr. Right” and now Ben Affleck in this; Anna Kendrick really has a thing for falling for men who like to shoot people.


“The Accountant” stars Ben Affleck as an autistic certified public accountant who cooks the books for mobsters and drug dealers. Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow also star as Gavin O’Connor directs.


I had wanted to see this for a while, mostly just because Ben Affleck is one of the three actors whom I will pay to see in anything (the other two being Leonardo DiCaprio and Seth Rogen; quite the contrast, I know). The trailer intrigued me further, although as my friend and I joked for the past several months, the commercials really don’t give a coherent description of what the film was actually about. But after finally seeing “The Accountant” I am strongly suggesting you do the same, as it is a very fun, mostly engaging film that is above all else, original.


Affleck played dumb second fiddle to Matt Damon’s math genius Will Hunting in 1997, and Damon went on to star in his “Jason Bourne” films. While Affleck wins at life for now being (the best ever) Batman, he decided while on a break spandex films he would make up for lost time and finally get to be both the math genius and the gun-toting badass all at once.


Affleck’s Christian Wolff is autistic, but he is portrayed in such a nuanced way that even though that is arguably his defining trait, it isn’t what we think about when we watch him onscreen. His Wolff is awkwardly funny, acknowledging other people’s tones and reactions out loud, often to their chagrin. We are shown flashbacks throughout the film that fill in the blanks about his past and how he got to where he is, and while some are pointless filler, others are interesting and develop depth.


Most of this is thanks to a relatively fun script from Bill Dubuque (who co-wrote “The Judge”). The script landed on the Black List a few years back (the record of best unproduced screenplays) and in interviews all the cast praised it, and for the most part it is easy to see why. Each character, even those simply here as plot devices (read: Anna Kendrick’s pointless but dorkably charming Dana) get fleshed out and feel like people, and each gets a scene to give fans of their work something to smile about. Arguably my favorite non-Affleck character was Jon Bernthal’s Brax, an assassin with a dark sense of humor. He is charming, intimidating and just oozes cool, and I just wish he had more scenes.


Everything was going great and for the first hour I really thought this had potential to be the best film of the year; but then things slow down. The most damning sequence is a (no lie) 20 minute exposition segment where J. K. Simmons’ government agent (in his obligatory “one last case before retirement”) reads a laundry list of things Affleck has done and how he became The Accountant. It is interesting at first but then gets tedious and by the end you’re confused why they didn’t just include these scenes as part of the film, not as flashbacks and montages.


The end shootout is also nothing to write home about, especially when the isolated, smaller action sequence sprinkled throughout the rest of the film were so impactful and well shot.


“The Accountant” dares you to take it seriously while at the same time knowing not to do so to itself. It has a surprising amount of laughs (some of which had the audience laughing riotously) and enough accounting and book cooking to be interesting without making you start to head bob. I was a-counting (huh?!) on Ben Affleck to come through in the clutch and he and the rest of the cast delivered a film that is smart, fun and, if I do say so myself, one of 2016’s best.


Critics Rating: 8/10

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

‘Pitch Perfect’ Sequel Mostly a Success

Pitch_Perfect_2_posterNever have I enjoyed a film with so many flaws so much.

“Pitch Perfect 2” is the sequel to, you guessed it, “Pitch Perfect,” a 2012 sleeper hit that has since become a little bit of a cult classic. This time around, most of the Bellas are graduating college, and after getting suspended they must come together to win the a capella World Championship for reinstatement. All of the main cast, including Anna Kendrick, Skyalr Astin and Rebel Wilson, return, and Elizabeth Banks makes her technical directorial debut (she directed a segment in “Movie 43” for which she won a Razzie, so let’s not count that).

The first “Pitch Perfect” is a little bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. It is far from a great film, but it is so darn watchable and the cast is just so darn charming that it is impossible to not enjoy. I was a little worried when I saw the trailers for this sequel, but it wasn’t going to take away from my (albeit hidden) excitement to see it. And thankfully, my fears were mostly wrong.

Let me get this out of the way right now: much like its predecessor, “Pitch Perfect 2” is far from a great film. It is stitched together, and the narrative is all over the place, and at times the whole thing feels very forced, but it is an immensely enjoyable summer film that doesn’t smudge the reputation of the first film (here’s looking at you, “Taken 2”).

The film features the same awkward, random interactions that made the first film so enjoyable. John Michael Higgins once again steals the show as a misogynistic a capella commentator, and Keegan-Michael Key has some great one-liners as a music producer.

The musical numbers are also very engaging and well-shot, and had me tapping my toes. There are different groups and styles that inject the film with different flavors and flair, including a German group that serves as the film’s antagonists.

Which brings me to my main complaint with the film. Many scenes simply happen to happen, and hold no real weight; much of the film simply feels like a compilation of subplots. Example: the Bellas are suspended simply because Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) pants accidentally tear during a performance (sure, I guess?). As part of their punishment, the group is not allowed to take in any new members, but they take a new member and no one ever questions it.

It is things like this, and believe me there are more head-scratching moments, that hold “Pitch Perfect 2” back from being anything than breezy enjoyment, and that frustrates me a bit. Also, we get it. Fat Amy is fat. We don’t need a joke reminding us every five minutes.

The sequel continues to perfectly walk the line between praising a capella singing and mocking it, and after all, you’re paying the price of admission to see fun musical numbers and humorous banter, so I’m likely the only cynical person out here who will even think to mention the narrative flaws.

Here’s the bottom line: whether you’ve seen the first film or not, “Pitch Perfect 2” sings in sweet comedic harmony, even of a few of its notes fall flat. …Get it? Notes? And harmony? Because, singing? [sighhhh] I’m telling ya, I slay even myself sometimes…

Critics Rating: 6/10pitchperfect2