The last book I read in 2016 was Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick’s funny and well-told collection of anecdotes from her life so far. It was so much fun that I finished it during the holidays in just over 24 hours! It’s also available as an audiobook, so I may just buy it when I finish re-listening to Sylvester. (If you read/listen to Scrappy Little Nobody, be prepared for profanity and frank talk.)
I became an Anna Kendrick fan in 2008 with the release of the first Twilight movie. As Jessica, Bella’s fast-talking high school friend, she was the spot of normal teen life and humour in the midst of all the vampire/vampire-wanna-be angst.
But she’s been acting for a long time, having been nominated for a Tony award for her Broadway performance in High Society. In her words, “I lost a Tony Award to Broadway legend Audra McDonald when I was twelve, so I’ve been a bitter bitch since before my first period.”
Kendrick pulls the curtain aside on the life of an actor, telling stories about press tours and being in the business as a child and, in a refreshingly down-to-earth way, sharing her experience of how unreal that world can be. Her dad would drive her from Maine to New York to audition and while there, would catch her eye and give her a look she read as, “These people are freaks; let’s get this over with, get the hell out of here, and get a Hostess Cupcake from the rest stop on the way home.” As she said, “It felt like coming up for air.”
The book has a light, funny tone, and even has the usual “bonus reading group guide”, but with questions like, “In the section about Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo, the author viciously maligns two innocent and very fashionable girls. Is Anna a shady, basic bitch, or the shadiest, basic-est bitch?”
The Twilight movies for me were a guilty pleasure. I’ve also enjoyed some of Anna Kendrick’s other movies, including:
- The Accountant (2016): My Hubby and I saw this at the theatre and really liked it. Ben Affleck stars as a math savant on the autism spectrum, whose training by his father went to extremes to ensure he would never be bullied. A forensic accountant for hire with his own sense of justice, he takes matters into his own hands with big guns. Anna Kendrick is a corporate accountant who discovers something fishy and Affleck is brought in to sniff it out. Both Affleck and Kendrick do a good job in this fast-paced, action-packed movie, which has a few unexpected twists toward the end. They started something here, and I’m hoping there will be a sequel. Caution for strong violence and language.
- Cake (2014):
Jennifer Aniston gives a wonderful performance in this film about living with chronic pain. Anna Kendrick comes onto the scene at various points, playing a fellow pain support group member who has committed suicide. Raw but tinged with humour and does justice to the subject.
- The Last Five Years (2014): I really loved this movie which stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and is based on the musical play by Jason Robert Brown. It starts with the end of a romance, and then goes back to the beginning and on through key moments of the 5-year relationship. The story is all told through song, with pretty much no spoken dialogue. Really well-done.
- Pitch Perfect (2012):
I watched this for the first time the other day on Netflix. I had actually avoided it, thinking it was going to be a teeny-bopper thing like High School Musical. Actually, though, it had my Younger Son and I laughing out loud, and the a cappella singing is really good. Kendrick plays an edgy wanna-be DJ/music producer, who to please her father, joins a college a cappella group run by driven over-achievers. “Cups (When I’m Gone)” from the movie became a hit single for Kendrick, climbing to number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Pitch Perfect 2 is also out on DVD and the third movie is in the works.
- 50/50 (2011): The script was written by Will Reiser about his experience with a rare form of cancer diagnosed when he was a young man. 50/50 are his odds of beating it. The movie manages to treat the subject with respect and has touching moments without descending into melodrama. It’s also really funny. Joseph Gorden-Levitt (500 Days of Summer) stars as the young guy with cancer, Anna Kendrick plays his young newbie therapist, and Seth Rogan is cast as the guy’s best friend, reprising his real-life role in Reiser’s story. While there are a few short stretches of Rogan’s trademark vulgar humour, the rest of the movie is really worth seeing.
- Up in the Air (2009):
I found the subject-matter of this movie depressing, as it is about a man whose job it is to go around the country firing people. So, from that point of view, I didn’t really like it. However, the acting was excellent, with Kendrick, George Clooney, and Vera Farmiga all being nominated for their performances.
If you don’t know Anna Kendrick’s work, check out some of the movies I’ve mentioned or one of her many other movies, such as Into the Woods (which I haven’t seen yet). And if you need cheering up and you want a laugh, check out some of her hilarious interviews on YouTube. Here’s one from the NET-A-PORTER channel: