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Quickie Reviews: Ben Is Back; Bumblebee; Vice

I know – these are three very different films. But I’m playing catch-up with my reviews! So I’ll start with my favorite of the three (though Bumblebee comes in a surprisingly close second!).

Review: Pitch Perfect 3

Awards season is filled with a lot of complex, thought-provoking stuff that represents your cinematic meat and potatoes, with a side of veggies. Pitch Perfect 3 is your fluffy dessert. A simple treat that goes down easy but should be consumed in moderation. It’s not nearly as good as the refreshingly original Pitch Perfect (2012) or its entertaining sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015). But it is good enough to satisfy the fan base (you know who you are, pitches). At this point, the law of diminishing returns has definitely nibbled away at the comedy/music franchise. But there’s room for replenishment and redemption because the main characters are still fun to watch, and the music is still fun to hear. In other words, despite PP3 being marketed as the Bellas’ “Farewell Tour,” there will surely be a PP4 ‘Comeback Tour’.

The Keeping Room

I really wanted to like this movie. The script was on the Black List, you know the one for the best un-produced screenplays. It’s very small and very indie. And usually that works for me. It’s being touted as a brilliant genre twist because it is a Southern western, whatever that means, and because its protagonists are women who kick ass. But it is just so slow and so predictable that I could barely make my way to the end.

Begin Again

Begin Again is all about the transformative power of music. In it a down on his luck, alcoholic ex-record company executive discovers a down on her luck songwriter and the two of them help one another come back into the world of the living. That the two are played by Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley helps this pretty simple story become more than the sums of its parts. It is a thoroughly entertaining little film, especially for music lovers.

True Grit

True Grit is a chick flick wrapped in a western. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin may be the higher-profile actors in this period piece, but it’s teenage newcomer Hailee Steinfeld who drives the plot and exhibits the “true grit” that the title refers to.