The Final Girls (2015) Review

The Final Girls (2015)

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Written by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Åkerman, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this. My enjoyment was only affected slightly by my hubby hating this & complaining throughout it. Sorry, dude – I thought it was okay! Flawed & certainly not perfect but fun and a great concept that was far more original than we usually get in the horror genre.

I’m going to start with the flaws. Mainly: Adam DeVine. I’m sorry but I can’t stand him. I happen to love Jack Black (I know a lot of people hate him) but why is DeVine acting like a horrible impersonation of Jack Black in this? If you hate Jack Black, please tell me that you hated DeVine in this as well. It’s like if Jack Black was still his outrageous self but completely unfunny in any way whatsoever. It was actually painful to watch. It was a shame, really, as I think there’s a potentially brilliant film hidden beneath the surface here that doesn’t quite break through due mostly to some of the performances (but mainly DeVine’s).

Other than DeVine, the rest of the movie’s flaws were pretty minor. I did find most of the characters weak or slightly annoying but, luckily, our two main ones (Taissa Farmiga & Malin Åkerman) were good. But I suppose that’s kind of the point as this is a horror comedy spoofing horror movies of the Eighties and all the silly clichés that go along with them, including everyone but the “final girl” being expendable.

I guess the biggest problem, really, is that the movie Scream already did the horror spoof thing with a much more clever script than The Final Girls. But there have now been plenty of horror comedies that spoof 70s & 80s horrors and I do love a good horror comedy so I still enjoyed this movie. I already did a list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies and The Final Girls comes close to being added. I’ll probably add it to that list & at least give it an honorable mention but DeVine sucks some of the “comedy” part out of the film’s genre classification.

As far as the story goes, I truly appreciated the originality involved in the concept of the teenage daughter of a scream queen ending up in her mother’s most famous 80’s slasher film. I was interested to see that this film was co-written by Joshua John Miller, someone from my day & age (I’m the age of the scream queen mother in this). He was in Halloween III, River’s Edge, Near Dark, Teen Witch, the cheesy Class Of 1999, and my favorite episode of Highway To Heaven! No, seriously – I liked that silly show. Anyway, I found this film to be an interesting mash-up of Generation X vs Current Teen and I thought that worked well. I probably connected to it as it was written & directed by those my age who also grew up on 80’s slashers.

Most of all, I really loved the mother/daughter relationship between Taissa Farmiga & Malin Åkerman. It was actually quite heartbreaking when the mother died (in the beginning & the plot synopsis so not a spoiler). When the daughter is reunited with her mother within her mother’s slasher film, the look of happiness & love on the daughter’s face was great. It was genuinely sweet & heartfelt for a horror comedy so they did do a great job with the two most important characters: the “Final Girls”. And I absolutely loved the climactic scene when the mother dances to Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes while her daughter watches. It was lovely & bittersweet & seriously one of my favorite movie scenes in recent years. And I’ve always liked that song and now I like it even more & will always think of that scene when I hear it. I’d love for the writers & director to get together & make a sequel to this (being a spoof of “80’s slasher clichés”, it’s obviously left open for a sequel). I’d happily watch Part 2. Just please leave Adam DeVine out of it… !

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Review

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Starring:
Anna Kendrick
Rebel Wilson
Brittany Snow
Hailee Steinfeld
Skylar Astin
Adam DeVine
Hana Mae Lee
Alexis Knapp
Ester Dean
Chrissie Fit
Anna Camp
John Michael Higgins
Elizabeth Banks

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

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My Opinion:

Movies like this aren’t really my type of thing, although I did think the first Pitch Perfect wasn’t too bad (review HERE – I gave it 7/10). I haven’t really liked many silly, cheesy comedies since the Eighties and find the ones aimed at teens/twentysomethings especially obnoxious these days. Plus I absolutely HATE things like Glee! I’m a big music fan & having to hear really good songs get mutilated & turned to shit always annoys me. Oh – they’ve done a song by A Tribe Called Quest in Pitch Perfect 2? Okay – I guess that makes Pitch Perfect really cool! (No, it doesn’t. I’m being a smart ass. Maybe not obvious in text). 😉

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I’m doing it again! I’m making it sound like I hated a movie when I didn’t! Pitch Perfect 2 is okay. If you liked the first one, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll like the second one. I mean, it’s the exact same film again (but with a weaker overall story). We have all the same characters again (with the addition of Hailee Steinfeld, who really added nothing to the movie & was only there to make sense of the final “twist” of sorts). Rebel Wilson is as Rebel Wilsony as always (she’s just as “love her or hate her” as Melissa McCarthy, although I’d have to say I maybe prefer her slightly to McCarthy but I sure as shit don’t love either of them). I was very happy that the crazy, quiet girl was in this again (Lilly) as she was my favorite thing from the first film. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get as many funny lines as in the first one and there’s no big “puke angel” moment (which I actually found hilarious although I did appreciate the lack of puke in Part 2).

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I think the most unfortunate thing about this film is that they seemed to not know what to do with Anna Kendrick’s character. She was by far the main star of the first movie so they tried to give her a “main character” storyline in this one but it felt really fake & forced. It just didn’t work – her character’s story (although cliché & predictable) was far more interesting in the first one. I found I “cared” about the characters much less in the sequel. These movies feel a lot like the 21 & 22 Jump Street movies to me. The first movie is the superior film with the much better story while the second one ramps up the humor and is actually more funny but is the weaker film as it just does the same thing again but not quite as well. I do like the Pitch Perfects a little more than the Jump Streets, though. It could be because I’m a girl who does still enjoy a girly popcorn movie when I’m in the right mood but I think, as the Pitch Perfects are more “female aimed”, they get a little less credit for being funny. Women can’t be funny, right?! Bullshit! Yes we can and things like Bridesmaids have proven that we can be just as disgustingly vulgar as men (although I’m not a fan of that film in the same way I’m not a fan of shit like The Hangover – I see the “girl” movie as being the superior one between those two, though). I did get a few chuckles out of both Pitch Perfects, which is rare for me. I especially like the un-PC jokes they’re able to get away with & loved the way Elizabeth Bank’s character laughed at the thought of Americans winning an international competition since everyone “hates us” (sorry – being an American living outside America I can confirm how true this is!).

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Speaking of Elizabeth Banks, I’m a fan of hers although I know she’d make some people’s Annoying Actresses lists. I’m not sure why some people don’t like her as I find her funny in her comedy roles but also think she does a decent job in other sorts of roles (she’s very good in the Hunger Games films). Anyway, I’m glad she’s had success directing this film & think she’s done a fine job here. The film does what it needs to do. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but it’ll certainly keep fans of the first film happy. Good job, Elizabeth Banks, and hooray for female directors!

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Summary:

Pitch Perfect 2 is really just Pitch Perfect 1 with less puking. What sequel tops the original, though? (Don’t answer that – I know some have). The story is weaker but the jokes are slightly more funny. If you loved the first one, you’ll love the second one but I think you’d have to watch the first one before seeing this to be able to buy into the characters as they’re far more developed in the first film. I wouldn’t say that you’d have to rush out to the cinema to see this but that’s probably just me as everyone clearly DID rush out to see this as it apparently beat the far superior Mad Max: Fury Road at the box office in America. Seriously?! This is why other countries hate us! Lol. Anyway, I did like this just fine although I’d have been just as happy watching it at home in my Snoopy pajamas. I know I sounded negative but I’m probably just trying to make excuses for my liking these movies okay as they’re not normally my type of thing. When did I become such a snob? They’re fun movies even if the cheesy singing does get in the way a bit.

My Rating: 6/10

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For all the young people who watch Pitch Perfect 2:

Pitch Perfect (2012) Review

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Pitch Perfect (2012)

Directed by Jason Moore

Starring:
Anna Kendrick
Skylar Astin
Rebel Wilson
Anna Camp
Brittany Snow
Adam DeVine
Ben Platt
John Michael Higgins
Elizabeth Banks

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Pitch Perfect follows a women’s college a cappella group, The Barden Bellas, as they compete against another a cappella group from their college to win Nationals.

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My Opinion:

Let’s get another review done! I need to start this review by saying this: I’m old. I grew up on John Hughes teen movies & NOTHING has ever or will ever come close to those in my old person opinion. I do still like watching movies aimed at teenagers & twentysomethings – I’m just always on the lookout for another Breakfast Club, though, and that has yet to happen. There have been some movies that I’ve enjoyed and are a bit of fun but won’t exactly become all-time favorites of mine. Pitch Perfect is one of these.

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The Good:

– Anna Kendrick: She’s a decent character I know I would have liked if I was still that sort of age. I always like a kind of “tough girl” (although, please! She’s not fully believable as one. Come ON – she’s SO not a “tough girl”! They obviously went “Let’s stick a tattoo on her & make her angry at the world!” Please). But a strong female lead is always a good thing & I’d happily have a teen daughter look up to this character instead of the many horrible female role models around these days.

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– The Crazy Quiet Girl: There’s a girl in The Barden Bellas (Lilly) who’s this tiny little thing who goes around mumbling and no one can understand her. When you DO catch what she says, it’s something completely insane like “I set fires to feel joy”. I loved this character! Her lines actually made me LOL and I am so NOT a LOLer. And when I recently reviewed Sound Of My Voice, I said there was no good puking scene in the history of cinema besides in Stand By Me (because puking is disgusting). Well, I forgot about Pitch Perfect. I don’t necessarily like the puking scenes in this but the thing Lilly does (I don’t want to spoil it) is disgustingly hilarious! I LOLed at that too. She really needed a bigger role in this & more lines because she was the highlight of the film for me.

– The Story & Humor: It’s not exactly the most original plot but it was fun & I do love a movie that ends with a competition of some sort. It’s also a fairly funny film overall. I think I have a weird sense of humor because I like very few comedy films these days so the fact that Pitch Perfect actually made me laugh a couple of times is pretty amazing. Heck, I also didn’t mind the predictable romance. I mean, I can SO relate to two people bonding over great movies! 🙂

– The Breakfast Club Reference: It’s funny how so many teen movies now seem to try to be like the great 80’s teen movies. I assume this is because the filmmakers are often my sort of age & grew up on Hughes as well. It’s good that some films at least TRY to live up to that.

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The Not-So-Good:

– The Breakfast Club Reference: Can’t current teen films just try to be good on their own without having to rely on mentioning the genius that is John Hughes? Easy A did this as well. However, it does fit better into the story in Pitch Perfect – it felt very forced in Easy A (I didn’t really like that movie).

– The Music: Okay okay. Sorry. I know that’s the whole point of this movie. But the reason I didn’t rush out to see this is because I hate things like Glee. Glee is awful. I tried to watch Glee for a while & just got annoyed whenever they took a good song & made it all cheesy & crap. Pitch Perfect is quite similar to Glee in some of the “slightly naughty” humor and, obviously, in the cheesy singing. Luckily, it works better than Glee. The story is better & funnier and the songs aren’t TOO terribly annoying. But stay the hell away from Simple Minds, people! LEAVE THE BREAKFAST CLUB SONG ALONE!!!! The best song in this is actually the original one.

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– Rebel Wilson: I dunno. I have yet to like her in anything I’ve seen her in. She does have some funny lines, though, and the fact that she calls herself Fat Amy “so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back” was pretty damn funny.

– The Fact That I Can’t Remember Much Else Besides What I’ve Listed: I watched this several months ago & don’t remember it that well anymore. But I can recite so many lines from my favorite John Hughes teen movies even though I haven’t watched most of them in years.

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There’s a shower scene in this, btw

Summary:

Pitch Perfect is a fun movie with a predictable plot but some great unexpected humor thrown in which does make it stand out when compared to other current movies aimed at teens & early twentysomethings. Like many other movies for this age group, it wants to be a John Hughes film but of course can’t manage that. However, it does stay on the right side of the line in trying to achieve this. And I LOLed a few times. I don’t LOL much.

My Rating: 7/10

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