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.

5/5




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Film Review – Trance (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 68%

Directed By – Danny Boyle
Starring – James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, and Danny Sapini

An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals, partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

You know I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film with Vincent Cassel where he didn’t play a slimy criminal. I’m sure there are some that exist but he is probably one of the most typecast actors working today. I guess it helps that he does it so well but come on. I want to see him in like a nice comedy with Rob Schneider. Wouldn’t that be nice? Okay, I’ve gone to far. I’m sorry. He plays a criminal in Trance and along with his cohorts, bullies poor James McAvoy into trying to remember where he hid a painting he helped steal after a bout of amnesia. You with me? I’m not even with me. The film ended up being chore to get through as I repeatedly caught myself hitting the pause button in order to get a snack or play with my dog. Luckily for me, Danny Boyle directed the film which at least left me with some serious film eye candy.

What I liked…

As I just said, Danny Boyle is a stylish mo-fo. The film was pretty dazzling all the way through. Deep reds. Dark blues and pastels. It’s a colorful film. Danny has always been this way though. He masterfully captured India in Slumdog Millionaire and delicately captured space in Sunshine. I mean, this is an Oscar winning director here. I’m always impressed with his work. I also really liked the acting from James McAvoy. He gave a gritty performance reminiscent of The Last King of Scotland. I like it better when he keeps his natural Scottish accent. It’s more, I don’t know, gritty. I like that word. Unfortunately these are the only two things that I particularly really liked. Cassel’s performance was average(Although there is an awesome scene that involves his face in this one) and the script had interesting moments. However…

What I didn’t like…

The script was thinner than a piece of thin cheese…or something equally thin…YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. This is a complicated film with twists and turns and backstabbing and revealed truths and it all seemed to be held together with scotch tape. I mean, we were presented with a finished product at the end but a product that was barely standing up because it’s structure was so weak when being made. Information and plot twists are shoved in our face as if the film is saying “SEE? THIS IS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED! FOOLED YOU!” Like I said in the intro, I would pause to go do something else for a few minutes while I tried to grasp what the hell just happened. I’m also not a fan of blatant lines of dialogue that make absolutely no sense only to be explained later on in the film. It’s a cheap way to create plot twists and really comes off as tacky. Subtlety is a very useful tool in film for when you want to make somebody go “OH, THAT’S WHAT THAT MEANT!” Trance kind of forced you to think that by cheap writing tricks. Not impressed. Also, Rosario Dawson is horrible in this. Horrible. I won’t go as far as saying she’s a horrible actress, but the notion is definitely being explored by myself. She was a distraction in many ways in this film, but when the main reason is horrible acting, that isn’t a good sign.

So, what have we learned? Trance is a film that tries WAY to hard to be a plot serpent. It twists and it turns so much that the value of what actually is happening is lost. It is however a pretty gorgeous film made by a talented man in Danny Boyle.

2.5/5