Film Review : Inside Out (2015)

IMDB Score – 8.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 98%
Metacritic Score – 94/100

Directed By – Pete Doctor
Starring – Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, and Kaitlyn Dias

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

I’m back. It’s been a few weeks since my last review. I’ve been busy with work and trying to get rid of this flat tire I have for a stomach. Work and gym can take up a large portion of your day. I finally got out to the theater since the debacle that was Jurassic World. Ant Man and Trainwreck should be following this shortly, but first I had to get out to see something I’ve been waiting for a long time to see…PIXAR BACK IN FORM!

I’ll start this by saying that I have not seen Cars 2 or Brave. I hated the first Cars movie and I just haven’t gotten around to seeing Brave. I will say however that it has been a long time since we got the four film streak of Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3. I missed those days. Finally an original idea comes back into our minds with the help of the wonder animators over at Pixar. It has to do with the brain. It has awesome voice actors I love. I’m in. I’m ready. Let’s get to this.

I have to comment on the short that preceded the film first. Guys, it was nice. I know a lot of people are REALLY digging it, my friend who saw the movie with me included, but I don’t see the huge deal. The short is about a volcano out in the ocean and how he would like a lady volcano to do whatever it is volcanoes are supposed to do when they have feelings and presumably sex organs. The whole thing is sung in a Hawaiian ukulele song by the who main characters. It was nice. I didn’t really get emotional like other people did because it was a simple story that got dark but you just KNEW it was going to get happy again. It. was. nice. Moving on…

I loved the film. There is a certain point that the great films by Pixar reach where it is hard to rank them as to which one is your favorite. I feel, on a first viewing, that Inside Out can join those rankings. I’m talking about Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and The Incredibles status. They took a fresh idea and built this fully functioning world that not only came off believable, but sucked you into the film by connecting so deeply through emotion. I mean, that’s what this whole film is about right? Emotions? Inside Out takes emotions and highlights just how powerful and important they can be in our life. I’ve always held the idea that you need to be in tune with all of your emotions to be a balanced person and this film just took that idea and ran with it.

If for some reason you haven’t seen the previews…here’s the premise. Riley is a 12 year old girl living with her parents in Minnesota. Inside her head is a vast network of “things” that help work Riley’s brain. The key five figures in this world are her basic emotions Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and disgust. They control how Riley feels throughout her life in their little headquarters. Riley has to move to California and that act sets in motion a series of events that cause Joy and Sadness to have to work together to figure out how to save this little girl from turning into an emotionless teenager we have all seen on Law and Order SVU.

That’s some deep shit. I don’t even know of kids are supposed to GET all of that stuff. I mean, there are plenty of adults, myself included, that have no grasp of how their emotions work. Asking kids to understand these deep philosophical and neurological ideas was a task that Pixar subsequently fucking nailed. NAILED.

The script was able to balance the line between showing us what was going on inside Riley’s head and what was going on outside of her head perfectly. It was never confusing and it was always concise and fluent. I can’t say enough about the script really. It’s kind of flawless. The only thing I can say is that my favorite character Bing Bong happens to be a recycled Toy Story-esque character who has been forgotten after the child they love has grown up. It still didn’t prevent Bing Bong from being my favorite character. I won’t even explain Bing Bong cause I had no idea he was in the movie until I saw it and the fucking cotton candy elephant knocked me on my ass.

Speaking of that, Pixar has once again proven that it can handle some SERIOUS emotional circumstances with grace and without coming off too heavy handed. Scenes in this film are just as emotionally powerful as the beginning of UP, the end of Finding Nemo, and of course “THAT” scene in Toy Story 3. Especially with Bing Bong. Oh, Bing Bong. I love you so.

The film just tackled growing up so damn well. You don’t know how to feel. You want what you had when you were a kid and full of joy. Things start going in the other direction and sadness all of a sudden has a bigger role to play in your life. Kids have to be able to learn how to deal with sadness and realize that it’s a perfectly normal and important part of life and Inside Out delivered that message beautifully. The thing I love most about the film though is that there were no real heroic acts of triumph or superheros overcoming a villain. There was no villain in this film. Not even a hint of one. This allows kids to be able to get the true meaning of the film which is that you’re not always going to succeed in life. There is going to be sadness and things will change but if you try your best to go with that wave of life then you should be able to come out okay. I thought it was a much better film than say Wreck It Ralph which has similar vibes but ultimately fizzles out by the end.

Did I mention the film is also hilarious? I did forget that. There was a goddamn Chinatown reference in this. CHINATOWN REFERENCE. I loved it. The voice acting was top notch from Poehler Black, and Smith and the world building made me wish the film were four hours long. I could spend all day with the memory janitors. Hysterical.

See the film. It’s a return to top form for Pixar and a serious look at how our emotions shape and change our lives. It’s a great film for kids going through such changes or parents who have a kids going through those changes. Maybe you’re just like me and got all teary eyed because it reminded me of how I went through that period of my life and how I’m handling THIS one. Great job Pixar.


Film Review : Short Term 12 (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.1
Rotten Tomato Score – 99%

Directed By – Destin Cretton
Starring – Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever, Alex Calloway, and Frantz Turner

A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.

The more films I watch from last year, the more I realize how great, or should I say consistent, last year was. While the major award winners were great in their own right, it was the indie darlings that really showcased what a wonderful year at the cinema it was. It’s just a damn shame I didn’t get out to the theater to see films like Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, The Way Way Back, The Kings of Summer, and the film I watched today “Short Term 12”. It actually ended up being my favorite of the bunch. I loved the film.

Brie Larson plays Grace, a mid twenties girl who runs a shelter for underprivileged teenagers with her boyfriend Mason, played by a charismatic John Gallagher Jr. The film takes us through what I’m going to guess is a couple weeks at the shelter where we are introduced to a number of kids who have lost their way in some form or another. Most don’t have parents and the ones that do don’t have much of a relationship with them. Two of the main children, Marcus and Jayden, have had problems with their parents and go through some serious emotions as the film progresses. The other plot line involves Grace herself as she goes through some serious times of her own.

Okay, I loved this fucking movie. I don’t know if it just hit a special chord with me, but I mean, I really loved this movie. I may not have nearly the same problems as any of these characters, but the hurt and anguish that most of these characters went through was certainly felt at the core. Grace is about the same age as me and seems a bit lost, almost like she’s at a crossroads in her life. We learn as the film progresses why this is but the initial portrayal of seeming lost is certainly something I have experienced over the last couple of years. Things are getting better, but the real feelings of sadness that swept over me while I was watching Grace live her life with Mason were overwhelming at times. This is mostly attributed to the incredible performance by Brie Larson. She knocked it out of the park in this film. She was able to pull off that “I’m in control on the outside but inside I’m a mess” character nearly to perfection. It’s something I’ve been dealing with every day. We put on shows for people and hide our true feelings and sometimes it goes on so long that we forget those feelings are even there. Larson was just incredible to watch throughout the 96 minute run time as she was in nearly every single scene and didn’t let up once. John Gallagher Jr, who plays Grace’s boyfriend/co-worker Mason, gave a lighthearted but insanely loving performance. He was able to shower love and affection upon the people in his life and was one of the most likeable characters I’ve seen recently in film. Along with the leads, Kaitlyn Dever and Lakeith Lee Stanfield were AMAZING in their portrayal of troubled teens Jayden and Marcus. This film did an amazing job portraying what it is really like working in one of these homes, mostly because writer/director Destin Cretton spent time working in one himself.

I can’t really say enough good things about this film. The story, along with the performances was perfect. There were a few instances where a bit more explanation could have been given, mostly at the end, but the emotion and uplifting messages the poured throughout the film were enough to hook me in for the entire movie. There were scenes that I was shocked to see what I was seeing, scenes where I laughed and smiled, and scenes where I almost teared up. That’s the ingredients of a damn near perfect film which is what “Short Term 12” is. I can’t wait to see what Cretton does next and I’ll be keeping my eye out for more films involving Brie Larson because she was just phenomenal in this film. It’s also worth noting that the beginning and ending of the movie were just absolutely perfectly touching and uplifting. I love this movie.


Suggested Viewing – The Spectacular Now, Fruitvale Station, Perks of Being a Wallflower