Scrappy Little Nobody
Author: Anna Kendrick
Release Date: November 2016
I’m a pretty huge fan of Anna Kendrick. I think I first saw her in “Up in the Air,” but really loved her in “50/50.” Since then I’ve sat through great films (“End of Watch,” “Rocket Science”), fun films (“Pitch Perfect,” “Mr. Right”), films I never heard of but ended up really liking (“Elsewhere,” “Drinking Buddies”) and even the occasional terrible film (“Rapturepalooza” “Camp”) just based on seeing her in them. I’m also a big fan of her Twitter account, which routinely has excellent comedic value in the 100 character ballpark. Thus it was with great excitement that I picked up her book. How did it turn out?
I’ll start by saying that it seemed like there were really two books here. The majority of the book is written in memoir fashion, beginning at childhood and advancing through her first acting on broadway and into film (the aforementioned “Camp”). This continues up through the “Twilight” movies and covers the highs and lows of her career and personal life. Kendrick spends slightly more time on her dating and living situation than talking about her acting career, so for casual or non-cinefile fans of her work this might make a more entertaining read. For us hardcore Kendrick watchers, we can also enjoy the stories about the low budget movie shot in Indiana where there was more parking reserved for horse buggies than cars (“Elsewhere”) or where she was crushing on a co-star in an improvised cameo (“Digging for Fire”) despite her frequently not mentioning the films by name. (Even the only reference for the best Kendrick movie, “50/50” is a one line story about a woman complimenting her on the funny cancer movie she was in.)
That book ended about 75% of the way through, around the same time that Kendrick gets to “Pitch Perfect” chronologically. At that point, the book reads like a series of essays that Kendrick was writing for a non-memoir book. There’s the chapter on grief, the one on fantasy parties, the one about a near death experience (which even Kendrick jokes at the end is written in a different tense than the rest of the book) and other various topics. I recall when this book was first announced, the idea of it was it was advertised as Kendrick’s take on various topics and after reading the whole book I can’t help but feel like it started as one idea, shifted to another and ended up a combination of both to meet the release date.
There’s your critical analysis, but more likely we’re all reading this book to see if Kendrick’s interview/twitter wit can be captured in prose over 200+ pages and the answer is definitely yes. The humor in this book is mainly self-deprecating, but Kendrick also has plenty of venom saved for various shady people she’s dealt with (or basic-est bitch-iest people, sic). When I read a book by an actor, I kind of hope for something along the lines of the Avclub’s recurring ‘Random Roles” web feature, where the author will share stories from just about every random project they’ve worked on. With the exception of Lance Henriksen’s “Not Bad for a Human” I’ve never actually gotten a book like that but Kendrick’s book still succeeds as a fun, quick read. If you already like Kendrick, you’ll probably like her more after reading this book, and if you don’t like her, odds are you’ll still chuckle a few times and fly through this entertaining read.