Recliner Reviews | Laughs for couples and families in this week’s reviews

Lily James is Cinderella and Cate Blanchett is her evil stepmother in Disney’s live-action feature “Cinderella.” Jonathan Olley/Disney Enterprises.
Lily James is Cinderella and Cate Blanchett is her evil stepmother in Disney’s live-action feature “Cinderella.” Jonathan Olley/Disney Enterprises. THE WASHINGTON POST

“Pitch Perfect 2”

Let’s be honest, the a capella singing group thing is a bit played out.

“Glee” is gone, and the first “Pitch Perfect” had its run. This sequel needs to crank it up or remix this concept for an original spin. That’s just what they did.

Yes, there are tons of popular songs sung with perfect harmonies, but they also spend a fair amount of time skewering the form.

Credit actress Elizabeth Banks for taking the helm and directing her first feature film; she’s able to put together a movie about women-power while managing some laughs. Yeah, that’s intentional corny.

As is this movie which allows Anna Kendrick to show off her pipes while letting her improvise about half of her dialogue. Rebel Wilson fearlessly attacks the role of Fat Amy again. Brittany Snow plays the straight-man again. Enter Hailee Steinfeld, who’s not a young virtuoso yet, but she does command respect.

The play-by-play between John Michael Higgins and Banks still bites with hilarity. This movie isn’t perfect, but it is worth a watch.


Disney doesn’t work in half measures. If something works, they’ll launch a full-assault blitzkrieg of entertainment and marketing. Princesses have always worked.

So why not put together a live-action film and bank on a family film, appealing to kids and adults? The cast are a safe and sturdy crew – Cinderella isn’t played by a movie star, instead the effervescent Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) can come across as both humble and glamorous in the role.

The powerful Cate Blanchett can unleash meanness in controlled bursts. Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) comes across with brooding charming but not cornball or overbearing. As always, Helena Bonham Carter swoops in to steal scenes.

Once a top-notch British actor and now a top-notch director, Kenneth Branagh crafts with Victorian flare and sprinkles in visual effects. Call it a remake, call it a revisioning, call it what you want, it’s worth a watch.

“The Overnight”

One night, two young couples with kids really need to unwind and let off some steam. Enter lots of booze and even more uncomfortable conversations.

This is prime territory for producers the Duplass Brothers. Their prolific careers have been spent putting weird discussions between men and women on screen.

The couples in question are played deftly by Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Taylor Schilling (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jason Schwartzman (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and Judith Godrèche (“The Spanish Apartment”).

Patrick Brice writes and directs this little film that devolves as the night goes on, but it also adds a couple nice twists, a few laughs and some touching moments.

It’s not for everyone. The content gets very racy, but for those looking for an off-center comedy, you’ll be in for a bumpy ride – worth a watch.

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