Total Recall

Anna Kendrick's Best-Reviewed Movies

We run down the Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates star's most acclaimed films.

by | July 6, 2016 | Comments

This weekend’s Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates uses real-life events as the loose inspiration for some R-rated fun with a pair of clueless bros and the hard-partying women who hoodwink them into a date to their little sister’s nuptials. And since one of the young ladies in question is played by the ever-charming Anna Kendrick, we decided this would be a great time to take a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from her career thus far. Hold on to your cups — it’s time for Total Recall!

Into the Woods (2014) 71%

Stephen Sondheim fans were concerned when word got out that Disney was bringing his Tony-winning musical Into the Woods to the big screen — chiefly because it seemed likely that the studio would lop off the less family-friendly elements of its twisted fairy tale story. Like any adaptation, the film version wasn’t exactly the same as its source material, but happily for Sondheim enthusiasts — and those who like a little dark fantasy mixed in with their musicals — Woods survived its journey to theaters largely intact. As Cinderella, Kendrick upped the superstar quotient of the robust ensemble assembled by director Rob Marshall, which also included Meryl Streep as a witch, Emily Blunt as a woman desperate to undo her curse, and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf. “Some of the musical’s superfans will feel shortchanged by the movie no matter what, but you have to give credit where it’s due,” warned the Washington Post’s Stephanie Merry. “The adaptation is pretty faithful to the original — for better and worse.”

Watch Trailer

The Voices (2014) 74%

For most films, making your main protagonist an employee at a bathtub factory would more than fulfill the weirdness quotient. But for 2015’s The Voices, that’s just the beginning of a surreal odyssey into bloody violence and black comedy — oh, and talking pets. Directed by acclaimed graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi by a script from Paranormal Activity 2 co-writer Michael R. Perry, The Voices stars Ryan Reynolds as an unhinged loner with some very dark secrets to hide — and Kendrick as a potential love interest who stands to make some disturbing discoveries. While its main character’s warped descent into a bleak, chaotic psychological abyss definitely isn’t for all viewers, those with a taste for the strange have found the end results intoxicating; as Sara Stewart wrote for the New York Post, it adds up to a “tonally wild indie, which is nearly too horrifying to be funny — but not quite.”

Watch Trailer

 Happy Christmas (2014) 76%

Kendrick reunited with Drinking Buddies writer-director Joe Swanberg for 2014’s Happy Christmas, in which a young woman at an emotional crossroads decides to crash with her older brother — and her arrival triggers an uncomfortable upheaval in his life of domestic bliss. Like a lot of Swanberg pictures, Christmas coalesces around a series of low-key, largely improvised moments, but with enough of a dramatic throughline to elevate the proceedings beyond their familiar narrative underpinnings. “All in all,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey, “Happy Christmas is a good deal like cartoon Charlie Brown’s classic tree — scraggly, plenty of heart and much to enjoy, especially if you prefer your presents homemade.”

Watch Trailer

Pitch Perfect (2012) 81%

Anna Kendrick can make a hundred movies, but for many filmgoers, she’ll probably always be most strongly identified with the Pitch Perfect series, and it’s easy to understand why. The fizzy charm of the 2012 original, starring Kendrick as a reluctant college freshman who stumbles into harmony with a campus a cappella group, exploded into a surprise $115 million hit — not only at the box office, but on the pop charts, where she scored a Top 10 single with “Cups,” her cover of the Carter Family classic “When I’m Gone.” The 2015 sequel (which added Hailee Steinfeld to an ace ensemble that already included Rebel Wilson) more than doubled its predecessor’s theatrical gross, and a third installment is already scheduled for 2017. Most critics have shared the audience’s evident enthusiasm for the franchise; as Connie Ogle wrote in her review of the original for the Miami Herald, “If you’re not grinning by the end of this light, funny crowd-pleaser, consider yourself tone deaf.”

Watch Trailer

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) 82%

After catching Hollywood’s eye in Up in the Air — and while she was still popping up in the Twilight franchise — Kendrick played the sister of the title character in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novels about a bass player (Michael Cera) who has to battle, video game style, past his new lady love’s exes in order to win her affection. Stuffed with fun pop culture nods and stacked with a cast that also included Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Brie Larson, and Aubrey Plaza, Pilgrim opened to surprising critical indifference, but it earned the affection of critics like Slate’s Dana Stevens, who called it “A package of cinematic Pop Rocks, a neon-hued, defiantly non-nutritive confection that nonetheless makes you laugh at its sheer bold novelty.”

Watch Trailer

Drinking Buddies (2013) 84%

The first of several films Kendrick’s made with the incredibly prolific Joe Swanberg, Drinking Buddies centers on the professional and romantic travails of a young Chicago foursome (rounded out by Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, and Ron Livingston), two of whom are co-workers at a local brewery. It might sound like a slim nail on which to hang a rom-com, but most critics thought it added up to some pretty engaging stuff — particularly since, as per Swanberg custom, the actors improvised their dialogue around the outline of the story. Filmed in a real working brewery (by actors drinking real beer), Drinking Buddies won over critics who’d already seen enough rom-coms for several lifetimes; as Moira MacDonald wrote for the Seattle Times, it “Sneaks up on you…you think it’s going in one direction, and suddenly it goes somewhere much more interesting.”

Watch Trailer

Rocket Science (2007) 84%

You’ve probably watched more coming-of-age stories than you can count, but in the right hands, it’s a formula that can pay powerful dividends. Case in point: 2007’s Rocket Science, a teen dramedy about a high school student (Reece Thompson) whose stuttering makes it difficult to feel like he fits in — until he meets the star of the school’s debate team (Kendrick), who convinces him to sign up. Kendrick earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her work, which offered an intriguing prelude to the bigger-budget work looming in her future; calling the results “Self-consciously quirky on the outside,” Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek wrote, “this gentle teenage fable has an affecting, openhearted core.”

Watch Trailer

End of Watch (2012) 85%

Cops versus gangbangers on the mean city streets! It’s a story Hollywood’s told countless times, but with End of Watch, director David Ayer still found a way to make it feel somewhat new. His success is due in no small part to this 2012 crime drama’s terrific cast, led by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as LAPD partners working the South Central beat. Kendrick, as Gyllenhaal’s significant other, has more of a stock part, but — like her castmates — she infused what could have been a two-dimensional character with new life. “End of Watch is one thriller where the adrenaline rush, considerable as it is, is almost always put in the service of character,” observed NPR’s Bob Mondello. “Happily, the character on display turns out to be considerable, too.”

Watch Trailer

Up in the Air (2009) 90%

Kendrick earned an Academy Award nomination for her work in this Jason Reitman dramedy, which put its finger on the pulse of the Great Recession with a story about a corporate downsizer (George Clooney) whose unencumbered, jet-setting lifestyle is thrown off its axis by the arrival of a new HR consultant (Kendrick) whose plans for the company threaten to make him obsolete. Its themes cut uncomfortably close for a number of viewers in uncertain economic times, but Up in the Air leavened the gloom with intelligent observations on modern culture — and even a bit of hope. “Timeliness can be tricky to pull off convincingly in movies,” wrote Claudia Puig for USA Today. “It’s tough to capture an era while it’s still happening, yet Up in the Air does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity.”

Watch Trailer

50/50 (2011) 93%

Although Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were unquestionably the leads in 50/50, this 2011 “cancer comedy” — starring Gordon-Levitt as a guy who gets through his cancer diagnosis with a lot of help from his best buddy Rogen — was really rounded out by a pretty stellar ensemble. Kendrick joined the cast as Katherine, a medical therapist who develops a deeply personal relationship with Gordon-Levitt’s character, winsomely lowering the bro quotient in a deceptively thoughtful look at disease that earned nearly universal critical acclaim. “What ensues is Beaches meets Pineapple Express,” wrote Mary Elizabeth Williams for Salon. “Which, I’ve got to tell you, is pretty much what living with cancer is like.”

Watch Trailer

Tag Cloud

Tarantino Rom-Com NBA saw spider-man 71st Emmy Awards Awards video on demand anthology critics space sequels Pirates twilight fresh documentaries comic book movies Animation teaser Dark Horse Comics Mary poppins Mudbound worst Spike king kong pirates of the caribbean popular 45 royal family cancelled Musical sitcom telelvision mockumentary Shondaland Set visit Music crime thriller satire spy thriller DirecTV Reality Competition canceled TV shows FXX free movies Legendary TCA Trivia dc legend news zero dark thirty feel good PlayStation parents crossover Heroines animated TV One remakes Amazon Prime Video theme song golden globes Elton John GLAAD wonder woman new york 1990s Character Guide football Logo king arthur adventure ABC Signature concert book adaptation Food Network live action Netflix Christmas movies CBS All Access new star wars movies dragons cartoon Nickelodeon New York Comic Con casting scary movies Comedy Central name the review comics blaxploitation Women's History Month screen actors guild Paramount Network breaking bad kong Nominations Tokyo Olympics Best and Worst streaming Countdown Reality finale Pop comic quibi Captain marvel boxoffice Pixar BBC America USA hispanic heritage month Black History Month TCA Winter 2020 Pet Sematary Bravo best Stephen King Brie Larson stoner green book gangster Lucasfilm biopic zombies Podcast NBC Sundance Now deadpool social media Netflix blockbusters game of thrones sequel AMC 4/20 docudrama Warner Bros. CBS batman james bond Cartoon Network Discovery Channel BAFTA superman Trailer directors high school OWN nfl indiana jones Opinion Infographic Super Bowl Mystery composers Polls and Games MSNBC TLC Western child's play Avengers USA Network Calendar San Diego Comic-Con HBO Go cancelled television classics The Academy universal monsters movies Wes Anderson aliens streaming movies adenture 20th Century Fox X-Men TV renewals Comics on TV Alien halloween tv BET Awards Film American Society of Cinematographers japan video hist LGBTQ cancelled TV series mutant psychological thriller criterion FX cars WarnerMedia golden globe awards television Marvel RT21 psycho ghosts Fall TV Hallmark Christmas movies OneApp Sci-Fi robots Vudu Nat Geo debate Winners Rocketman YouTube Red Endgame vampires E3 FOX Superheroes fast and furious lord of the rings CNN scorecard Watching Series Marvel Television war LGBT Premiere Dates crime drama serial killer transformers President critic resources based on movie Amazon films anime romance Country hollywood The Arrangement A24 Black Mirror ABC TV Land superhero disaster 93rd Oscars VOD mcc true crime Action Turner Classic Movies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Spring TV Amazon Prime Pride Month rom-coms The Witch Amazon Studios docuseries 72 Emmy Awards E! slasher History Mary Poppins Returns japanese comic book movie Kids & Family venice rotten black Showtime romantic comedy game show new zealand Superheroe Sneak Peek DC Universe Columbia Pictures hispanic christmas movies VH1 FX on Hulu trailers APB HBO Max Baby Yoda Musicals Year in Review action-comedy toy story harry potter toronto australia slashers emmy awards Spectrum Originals Crackle 007 IFC Films documentary See It Skip It diversity 2020 festival 99% Emmys Travel Channel south america Mindy Kaling razzies Awards Tour what to watch Academy Awards target Masterpiece BBC One 2015 ITV comiccon TBS comedies Comedy Apple TV+ 73rd Emmy Awards TNT discovery stop motion nbcuniversal nature CW Seed ratings Turner Drama Cosplay YouTube dark DGA Sundance TV period drama historical drama Oscars canceled Apple Interview Marathons Trophy Talk The Walt Disney Company MTV SXSW cooking MCU politics book Pop TV Starz Disney streaming service YouTube Premium Esquire IFC Teen international CMT tv talk screenings Tumblr Star Wars Red Carpet spinoff aapi dramedy Toys french natural history Acorn TV Emmy Nominations Lionsgate The CW Video Games 24 frames WGN scene in color doctor who ID Universal Winter TV political drama Disney die hard Martial Arts sports Sundance young adult SundanceTV Ovation halloween Shudder Horror A&E festivals Epix National Geographic biography Image Comics ABC Family Hear Us Out Film Festival crime werewolf mission: impossible Holiday jurassic park GIFs boxing monster movies Fox Searchlight zombie godzilla Paramount Plus TCM spanish Election Adult Swim YA cults Hulu Disney Plus blockbuster marvel comics Writers Guild of America asian-american rotten movies we love Chernobyl The Purge latino Holidays all-time joker Lifetime Christmas movies TCA Awards 2021 TruTV facebook rt archives justice league TV cops Disney Channel First Look ESPN award winner binge Apple TV Plus 2017 children's TV versus marvel cinematic universe italian The Walking Dead 2019 Disney+ Disney Plus chucky jamie lee curtis Broadway unscripted dexter reviews PBS Certified Fresh rt labs kaiju movie Hallmark dceu Pacific Islander TV movies foreign Freeform VICE Creative Arts Emmys sag awards GoT kids Comic-Con@Home 2021 worst movies medical drama TCA 2017 independent Comic Book heist movie Anna Paquin Britbox Syfy Crunchyroll HBO Rock comic books TIFF El Rey Funimation adaptation PaleyFest series Box Office a nightmare on elm street know your critic Grammys 2016 Sony Pictures RT History Tubi strong female leads Biopics basketball Peacock police drama talk show cancelled TV shows BBC Extras Television Critics Association Binge Guide franchise Paramount DC streaming service Quiz elevated horror Valentine's Day Television Academy obituary olympics archives Exclusive Video Photos BET 21st Century Fox ViacomCBS richard e. Grant dogs science fiction Schedule supernatural singing competition posters spain 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Family indie prank thriller Ghostbusters First Reviews Mary Tyler Moore Thanksgiving cinemax Lifetime suspense reboot stand-up comedy Star Trek Rocky 90s Fantasy miniseries technology spanish language SDCC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Song of Ice and Fire revenge women Cannes Walt Disney Pictures cats Fox News hidden camera rt labs critics edition Marvel Studios NYCC travel Classic Film Ellie Kemper Summer Tomatazos DC Comics 2018 Arrowverse renewed TV shows laika witnail Christmas