‘Pitch Perfect’ writer marks directorial debut via comedy film ‘Blockers’

Kay Cannon, the writer and architect of the groundbreaking Pitch Perfect movies has proved that comedies about strong, dynamic women could pull huge audiences of female fans at the box office.

With her directorial debut in Universal Pictures’ sex comedy Blockers, Cannon has become only the sixth woman in the history of film to direct a big R-rated studio comedy.

In the film, when three parents discover their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. As nonstop helicoptering struggles with awkwardly letting go, the well-meaning trio shares in the raucous comedy that accompanies their kids’ biggest step into adulthood.

Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) are thrown together by fate—or rather their daughters becoming fast friends on the first day of kindergarten. As their inseparable girls grow into ride-or-die young adults, the trio of parents becomes de facto commiserates, sharing in their kids’ special moments, from birthdays and teen heartaches to first dances and now prom.

“I had been itching to direct for a long time,” she confesses. “Women don’t get an opportunity like this often and I was excited for the chance.”

When making her directorial debut, it was also important to choose a film that would one day resonate with her daughter. “Even though my daughter’s still young, I wanted to direct a film that she could eventually see herself in,” Cannon says. “I was waiting for a story that shows young women in a way that hasn’t been seen before.”

The story of Blockers appealed to Cannon because it wasn’t a typical ‘high-school sex movie.’ “It shows young women taking control of their own sexuality, and confronts the sexual double standard,” she shares. “Right away, I wanted to do this.”

For far too long, films have been made about young men’s firsts. With Blockers, young women finally have a rollicking film about their own sexual experience that’s equally relatable. The scene where the young women make the sex pact is a favorite for Cannon because it sounds like a conversation that could be overheard in any high school cafeteria. “They’re silly; they’re crass; they curse,” she offers. “They talk about sex in ways that we haven’t seen young women talk about it, at least not in high school.”

Cannon hopes that this story that explores sexuality from several angles will prompt audiences of all ages to start a long-overdue conversation about sex, responsibility and respecting the choices of young women. She offers, “I didn’t talk about sex growing up at all. It was abstinence and that’s it. Maybe you wouldn’t want to see this movie sitting next to your parents because there are a lot of dirty jokes, but my dream for this film is to get people laughing and then talking. I would love that.”

In Philippine cinemas May 2, Blockers is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Friends face deadly consequences in supernatural horror film ‘Truth or Dare’

Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) lead the cast of Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, a supernatural thriller from Blumhouse Productions (Happy Death Day, Get Out, Split). A harmless game of “Truth or Dare” among friends turns deadly when someone—or something—begins to punish those who tell a lie—or refuse the dare.

Directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2), the thriller co-stars Violett Beane, Nolan Gerard Funk, Hayden Szeto and Sophia Taylor Ali. The film was produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum and executive produced by Wadlow.

Discussing his inspiration for Truth or Dare, Jeff Wadlow says: “I wanted to make a fun, smart, scary movie with real stakes. Cry Wolf was my first bite at the horror-genre apple, and when producers Jason Blum and Couper Samuelson came to me with this germ of an idea, I thought this was a great opportunity to create a film that audiences could buy into.”

Wadlow imagined a group of college friends who head to Mexico for one last getaway before they begin their post-grad lives and head their separate ways. As with any core crew, long-brewing romances and allegedly buried conflicts begin to emerge as they prepare to say goodbye. When a handsome stranger cons our heroine into getting her friends to play a supposedly silly game of “Truth or Dare,” they awaken a trickster demon that is hell-bent on getting them to share their darkest secrets or confront their deepest fear…and if they don’t, they’ll pay the ultimate price. “If you want to live,” says the director, “you have to either answer as honestly as possible or do the one thing you don’t want to do.”

One of the more entertaining aspects of building the narrative was planting seeds for the audience, allowing the story to move progressively into more terrifying territory. Ultimately, every truth-or-dare sequence was designed to highlight a flaw, weakness or secret a character had been harboring. This ensured that it all felt organic to the character.

Wadlow explains: “We show you that this one character has a drinking problem and that one has a crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. As the game evolves, and more probing questions are asked by-as well as more personal dares-it’s my hope that the audience starts to lean in, learning more about the players. This allows them to play along and have fun, experiencing the dares, and having a reaction to the questions. They’re not only connecting with the characters but also enjoying the game’s malevolence”

In Philippine cinemas May 9, Truth or Dare is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

MOVIE REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) [2 of 2]

Avengers: Infinity War soars through a galaxy of big stars that the world has fallen in love with over the last 10 years. A decade-long of brewing momentum that spews generosity on its loud visual effects, and unprecedented humor injects, are only but a couple of reasons why Marvel is at the top of their A-game.

Avengers: Infinity War

When it comes to a pitch perfect image of a superhero movie, Avengers: Infinity War epitomizes that cinematic definition. Marvel has once again proven its keen eye for pleasing cinephiles and comic book fans alike through a very satisfying visual and emotional treat. Over the last 10 years, Marvel has, one by one, assembled the Avengers’ standalone movies before coming up with this big collaboration with everyone on-board — something that DC’s Suicide Squad could learn something from. They made sure that the audience has fully invested on these characters, that it almost didn’t matter how short or long each of their screen time was, or how underwritten some of them were. Marvel has done every establishing rapport to the moviegoers over the last 10 years, which goes to show that a film this big truly takes a decade to have full and complete fruition.

The stars are overwhelmingly big. From the nostalgia brought by Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man way back in 2008, to Chadwick Boseman’s luminous Black Panther just 2 months ago, the movie is a collection of an end-to-end dynasty of stars, making Marvel an unstoppable force who truly knows how to build a universe. The combination of all these characters along with their respective trademarks brought so many nuances to the film: from Thor and Star Lord’s sharp comic versatility; Spiderman’s naive-Gen Z persona; Black Panther’s regal cast ensemble; Doctor Strange’s ethereal, almost ghost-like presence, to the ill-fated romance of Scarlet Witch and Vision, just to name a few. They have proven that superhero movies is a trend that hasn’t gotten old, and won’t likely be getting close to it anytime soon. It is a pure testament that superheroes will always be a part of the psyche in every generation, and it’ll never be outdated or old-fashioned. Infinity War has upheld that timeless legacy.

READ MORE: First review of CinemaBravo for Avengers: Infinity War

That being said, the movie primarily worked because of two things: 1) too many big stars, and b) our connection with the characters, as established by our years of emotional investment towards them. It’s always refreshing to see them all together in one movie. However, there really isn’t anything particularly new to the story, or anything groundbreaking to the premise. From X-Men: Days of Future Past, to Justice League (a bad movie, but hey, the premise is a been-there-done-that) — that Superhero: All Star theme is something that didn’t register as fresh or new. Infinity War only felt like it’s high above the rest because of these top-billed A-listers, who aced each of their characters, needless to say.

Moreover, the first half of the film seemed like a never-ending momentum towards something that ultimately never felt fully achieved, other than a boastful prelude towards the next Marvel movie. It was an oxymoronic combination of being too long, but equally too short. The build-up was painstakingly long, but the climax ultimately felt underwhelming (Really? All that otherworldly, interplanetary build-up scenes, and the fight ends up in some random forest that looked like it was shot in someone’s backyard?) Don’t get me wrong — it was great movie, but its boiling hot premise dwindled down to a lukewarm finale. Infinity War felt like an overly-prolonged commercial for the next Avengers film.

Nevertheless, Avengers: Infinity War stirred my curiosity to the continuance of the Marvel universe, and is a testament that a decade-long franchise and partial conclusion is just the beginning of it all. It left me hanging, but for most part, it made me want to see what’s next. At the end of the day, that feeling of excitement towards the sequel is all you could hope for in a franchise.

4.5 out of 5 stars

About Avengers: Infinity War

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Avengers: Infinity War’ is now showing in PH cinemas.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spiderman), Chadwick Boseman (King T’Challa/Black Panther), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Anthony Mackie (Wade Wilson/Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/White Wolf), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Dave Bautista (Drax), Bradley Cooper (Groot), Vin Diesel (Groot), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Benedict Wong (Wong), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Benicio Del Toro (The Collector), Josh Brolin (Thanos) and Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord). Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

Runtime: 2 hours, 36 minutes