Double Feature: Helping or Hurting?
Last night The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Pitch Perfect duked it out in double feature duel ripe with possibilities. First up was Wallflower and I walked in not excited to see a beloved book put to the big screen (given that I’d never read it) but more ready to experience all that is Ezra Miller. After We Need to Talk About Kevin I’ll pretty much see anything he does. In the four years since his debut Miller has proven himself as a force to be reckoned with. Wallflower only perpetuates this with his take on a flamboyant unapologetic high school senior who seems more comfortable with himself than any adult I’ve ever met.
I left Wallflower in a mad dash to Pitch Perfect blown away by not only Miller but also the two other main leads Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. Watson was delightful and sweet with the only thing working against her being that awful haircut with pointless headbands to match.
However, the real treat was Lerman, you may better know him as Percy Jackson or that kid from the most recent Three Musketeers property. He was charming, graceful and pretty much like every nice guy that girls have tossed aside for the bad boy and he just wants everybody to be happy. With three fantastic lead performances and a solid supporting cast that includes the always enchanting Paul Rudd, Wallflower is a familiar story that somehow feels new again.
Pitch Perfect on the other hand survives only on the solid musical performances but ultimately disappoints with underdeveloped relationships and a general feeling of mediocrity. Much like Magic Mike earlier this year I found myself impatiently waiting for the musical sections. Anna Kendrick takes the “alternative” vibe to the next level with endless chipped black nail polish and thick eyeliner giving her a constant mopey look. Throw in some tattoos and ear jewelry and she’s a regular Joan Jett. The same girl who shined with Up in the Air and 50/50 now has this on her resume along with the Twilight saga and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. These things must stop.
I was surprised to find out upon returning home that Pitch Perfect currently holds a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie isn’t without one liners or familiar faces but nothing seems to gel well enough. Laughs can be had but the movie relies too much on Rebel Wilson and beats to death racial jokes and physical gags that barely hold up the first time around. Add a heavy helping of “cute” words reinvented by incorporating a cappella somehow and there you have it.
Then I had a realization that mere months before had me questioning how detrimental back-to-back movies can truly be. On July I went to a screening of the Nolan Batman films all leading up to a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Like most, I had been anticipating that day for what felt like a few lifetimes. Expectations were high and I was convinced I was not going to be disappointed, I mean it was Tom Hardy the guy rarely disappoints (I’m pretending This Means War doesn’t exist of course.) I was already entertaining the idea of seeing TDKR at least three more times while it was still in theaters.
Spoiler alert: I’ve still only seen it that one time in July.
Why? Well honestly I think it was because I saw Batman Begins and The Dark Knight hours before. On top of the expectations and excitement I had prior to walking in the theater that day as each Batman movie played the anticipation grew stronger. By the time Heath Ledger appeared on screen in the nurse outfit I was ready to jump out of my seat.
There I was remembering just how good those movies were and how exhilarating it was to see them in the theater opening night. All the while I still had TDKR to experience. When all was said and done I just wanted to get my free poster and hit the sack. With the other two movies so fresh in my mind I couldn’t help but compare absolutely everything. TDKR just had too much to live up to and I can’t help but wonder how different my reaction would have been with a clear head.
This brings me back to Wallflower and Pitch Perfect. Would I have enjoyed Pitch Perfect more had I not seen Wallflower first? Absolutely. Writing, direction and acting were all compared, perhaps unfairly, given that they were literally going head to head with no time to recuperate. Pitch Perfect was endlessly predictable but was this only because Wallflower was so well crafted and felt like a new take on an age-old story? Much like I wouldn’t eat two entrees uninterrupted I’ve decided to give myself a little time to breath between each movie next time.
A bad movie will always be a bad movie but with a good one so hot off the reel the negative qualities are amplified to a level it’s like they’re screaming at you. This is merely a small-scale version of what happens when critics attend film festivals. It’s no wonder some of those movies get smashed to pieces. Going from a good to bad movie all within four hours is as shocking as going from drunk to sober while fully awake. It leaves you with a funny feeling that you just can’t seem to shake and could have been avoided with more careful planning. Just some food for thought next time you’re looking to spend a day at the theater.