Inside Out (Movie Review)

“Wanna put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion…”

(This has nothing to do with anything, but another reason why this post is so late, besides Father’s Day, is because my piece of shit McAfee software keeps sending pop-ups that turn off my Google Chrome tabs. I got seven hundred and fifty words into the review on Sunday and Monday before McAfee struck. It’s partially my fault for not saving frequently, I suppose, but still, fuck McAfee.) 

I got out of my French diploma at ten-thirty on Friday. I’m not usually one to compliment Edmonton weather, but late Friday morning was absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful mid-20’s temperature (That’s Celsius for those of you unlucky enough to live in a Fahrenheit realm, or whatever) and the slightest of cool breezes.

Before I gained a barely steady cash flow, I might’ve sought out my friends, or gone home to play catch with my brother. Now? I went on my own to an air-conditioned movie theatre, where I watched a movie aimed at children, where I was the only person in the theatre who was neither a six year old, nor a parent of a six year old.

Needless to say, the minutes leading up to the movie starting were not the most comfortable for me.

 Inside Out

Directed by: Pete Docter

Produced by: Jonas Rivera

Screenplay by: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley

Story by: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Drama

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Kaitlyn Dias

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Plot: Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias) is more or less your typical eleven-year old Minnesotan girl. She loves her family, friends, the great sport of hockey and couldn’t be much happier with her lot in life…. That is, until her dad’s job forces the family to move to the relatively hockey-unfriendly (Unless we’re counting San Jose) city of San Francisco, throwing the cartoon emotions inside her head into disarray.

See, when that happens to a Pixar character, it’s “kid’s movie material.” When it happens to me, it’s “A violent schizophrenic episode.”

Oh, right, the cartoon emotions. Almost forgot about that tiny detail that’s also the premise of the entire movie.

Any smug hipster scrambling to proclaim that this is a rip off of fucking Herman’s Head should probably go ahead and blow their brains out right about now.

The five emotions that guide Riley through her tumultuous life are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader) and, when shenanigans ensue because of the move to San Francisco, the emotions have to work together to get Riley through this ordeal emotionally and physically unscathed.

God, this movie is fucking awesome.

I’m not going to surprise anybody when I say that I love Pixar. At this point, they’ve influenced pop culture to almost, if not the same, extent as their parent company, Disney.

That being said, I’m also not going to pretend that they’ve had a perfect go of it. In fact, since Toy Story 3, Pixar has released, at best, Brave, a movie directed by two people with different visions (And boy does it show!!!) and at worst, Cars 2 or Monsters University (Unbefitting of their predecessors. Well, actually, Cars kinda blows, but Monsters Inc. holds up beautifully).

So, I don’t know if I can really be blamed for not being all that excited about Inside Out when the movie was announced. Sure, it was an interesting concept, and the fact that Pete Docter was director, and the concept was intriguing, but… I dunno, the character designs seemed kind of lazy to me, and I thought that child psychology might be a bit of a lofty aspiration, even for a generally smart studio like Pixar. Sure, I get that they’ve done very smart movies before, but… I dunno, as deep as they’ve gone in Up, for instance, I don’t know if you could really call it as profound as, say, the psychology of a prepubescent child.

…I stand corrected.

And then they announced the voice cast. Holy crap, was I ever on board. The casting director for this movie deserves a lifetime supply of coke and hookers. Or, y’know, whatever it is that people besides myself consider to be sources of joy.

You could not ask for better personifications of joy, fear, sadness, anger and disgust than Poehler, Hader, Smith, Black and Kaling.

Huh. I just realized that every main cast member besides Poehler and Black appeared on The Office in some capacity. Cool.

I guess you could make the argument that Kaling, Smith and even Black are underused, but they don’t receive that much less time than Poehler and Smith, and they’re still terrific. So are Poehler and Smith, who do receive the most of the screen time. Off the top of my head, I would say that Smith as sadness is my favourite, although Lewis Black could pull ahead, the more I think about it.

How the hell did Disney ever green-light hiring Lewis Black?

Inside Out delivers on every level that you could ever want a great Pixar movie to deliver on, at least before Larry the Cable Guy voicing a tow truck was considered par for the course Pixar. The animation? Terrific. The score from Michael Giacchino? Terrific. The character design? Actually, despite my reservations, they work incredibly well during the movie, as, while the designs themselves may not be anything special, they’re animated (And voiced, and written) in such a way that gives them  way more personality than the designs let on. The comedy, drama and script in general? Well, it’s not laugh-a-minute, but it’s still a brilliant, touching script.

Also, Richard Kind’s character.

Homeless Snuffleupagus at a gay pride parade? I like to think so. 

Didn’t appear at all in the marketing (That I could tell, anyways), but contributes a lot to the story. He can come off as kind of annoying, but  I guarantee that he grows on you.

What I appreciate the most of this whole movie though, is the fact that, not only does it handle the deep elements inherent to a movie about goddamn child psychology, it also refuses to talk down to children. Too often, I think we’re seeing kids’ movies cater more and more to the demographic of “adults who just want something amusing to distract their kids for two hours while the parents pop vicodin in the bathroom.” Instead of making great, inventive fun movies that still manage to teach a great lesson and leave an impression on the audience, it’s becoming par for the course to shit out a movie about cartoon animals and bright colours, load it with adult jokes that wink so hard and often at the adult  audience that they would be breaking a blood vessel if they were human, and cap it off with some half-assed, generic lesson that we’ve heard a million times before. It won’t leave any worthwhile long-term impression on the audience, old or young, but the studios won’t give a shit, because people are still going to see movies and because the idiot kids don’t know any better!!!

OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE WILL ARNETT, HAVE SOME GODDAMN SELF-RESPECT!!!!

In that respect, Inside Out is the great redeemer for the recent slew of terrible family movies. Not only is this story all those positive qualities I mentioned above, but it’s maybe the smartest family movie ever made in a long time, and almost certainly one of the better depictions of the elements of childhood and growing up ever put to screen, capturing in ninety-four minutes what Boyhood couldn’t do in a million hours, or however long that fucking movie was. It’s joyous (Pun intended) but also bittersweet. It’s simple and carefree, but also confusing and difficult to get your head around. You can feel on top of the world one day and have it all crumble down in mere seconds. Multiple times. It’s good to see that Pixar not only rebounded from their rut, but rebounded with a movie that is going to mean so much to so many.

 …

That said, I don’t like the character design in The Good Dinosaur. Let’s see if Pixar makes me look like an ass again.

Overall: Brave is no longer the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 3. Thank Jeebus for that.

Rating: 9.5/10

Now, who’s excited for Ice Age 5???

Movie Review: Man of Steel

When I review movies, I can’t help but be a little swayed by movie critics. Sure, everything I write, I mean or agree with, but in an era where sites like like Rotten Tomatoes can give you a quick, effective overview of whether somebody liked the movie, or whether they hated it, and if their opinion of the film was an aberration or the status quo, gone are the days when you had to watch the movie for yourself to decide, more or less independently, what are quality films.

Also, which 9% of critics and 30% of audiences should probably be separated from the general population.

But occasionally, there comes a movie where I simply cannot agree with the critical consensus. Van Wilder is one such movie (18% from critics). Another is Superhero Movie because goddammit, if it has Leslie Nielsen, it’s good enough for me.

This is about the closest Canada had to Mr. Rogers. We miss ya, Leslie.

The movie I’m reviewing today (If only because I’m feeling burnt out from my stupid baseball articles) is one that has polarized both critics and fans, unusual for superhero movies, which are usually unanimously seen as good or bad, depending on how many shitty emo dance sequences occur.

Hee hee! Look at how his cheeks wobble!

Starring the only superhero that just won’t stay dead even if some may prefer it that way…

File:Deathofsuperman.jpg

Those have got to be the weakest wounds that anyone has died from.

…Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for…

Superman, bearing his traditional red and blue costume, is shown flying towards the viewer, with the city Metropolis below. The film's title, production credits, rating and release date is written underneath.

Directed By: Zack Snyder

Genre: Superhero

Based On: Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Cristopher Meloni, Russell Crowe

Legacy: People starting to realize that producer Cristopher Nolan is probably a pretty joyless guy.

“Bitch, please.”

Quick Plot Summary:

The scene: Planet Krypton, an advanced civilization comprised of genetically engineered humanoids whose jobs are all predestined from the moment they are conceived in vitro, and flying bird things that were totally not stolen from Avatar. The time: The Kryptonian apocalypse, a result of Krypton being bled dry of its natural resources, which resulted in an unstable core. The planet’s military commander, General Zod (Michael Shannon, looking every bit the part) deposes the ruling council via vaporization, while scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe. Not singing, thank God)  and his wife Lara (Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer) launch their newborn son Kal-El, the last natural-born son on Krypton, on a spacecraft to planet Earth, after infusing him with a genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. What was the point of this? Fuck if I know. Zod murders Jor-El, but his coup is defeated and he is imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. However, Krypton blows up shortly afterwards, which makes going to all the trouble  of throwing somebody in jail, where he will be safe, while your own planet explodes seem pretty damn stupid, huh?

“Honestly? We were just in it for the brutality.”

Kal-El’s ship lands in what I’m going to assume is Smallville, Kansas, where he is brought up by Martha (Diane Lane) and Johnathan Kent (Kevin Costner), who christen him Clark Kent. Because Earth’s atmosphere is different from Krypton’s, or something, Clark develops superhuman abilities, including unreal strength, speed, flight, durability, heat vision and (most terrifyingly) X-Ray vision.

And the ability to make straight men’s sexuality do a complete 180.

After Johnathan reveals his extraterrestrial origins to him, he advises him not to use his powers publicly, fearing that society will reject him. This, despite humanities excellent track record with godlike beings who could crush them with a flick of the wrist.

Andre the Giant: Sent from the distant, doomed land known only as “France” to save us from ourselves.

Fast-Forward several years later, and Clark has matured into a bearded nomad (Henry Cavill) who roams the States…

Wow, you can hardly tell that both this movie and Batman Begins were written by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, huh?

…Taking odd jobs under false names until he infiltrates a U.S. military investigation of a Kryptonian spaceship in the Arctic. Inside the ship, he discovers the preserved consciousness of Jor-El in hologram form. Holo-El reveals Kal-El’s true lineage to him and explains that he was sent to Earth in order to bring hope to mankind. After the revelation, Clark saves Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) from harm when she tries to sneak in and is attacked by the ship’s security system. Upon returning to Metropolis, her story of a superhuman saviour is rejected by her editor, Perry white (Laurence Fishburne). So she then traces Clark back to Smallville, intending to write an expose on the guy that was hanging around an alien spacecraft guarded by the U.S. military. Not once did she think that this might not be the best idea.

Though if she is going to release state secrets to the public, I’m sure Julian Assange could use some company.

Meanwhile, Zod and his soldiers, who survived the destruction of Krypton have made their way to Earth and hijack the world’s communication services to demand that Kal-El surrender themselves to him, in order to use him in his sinister plan that I won’t reveal because I have the sinking feeling that this plot summary has gone too long.

Overview:

Wow, where to begin?

To begin with a negative aspect of the film, I would have to go with what feels to me like an overall lack of originality. I know that it’s a waste of breath to complain about originality in movies today, but in this film, it’s clearly obvious that Christopher Nolan “borrowed” story elements from Batman Begins. Specifically, the part where Clark goes on his journey to “find himself” or whatever, which, you will recall, is exactly what Bruce Wayne did in Batman Begins. Nolan may have also borrowed a little bit too much of the tone from his  Dark Knight series. At times, Man of Steel seems incredibly bleak. Now, I’m not one to complain about this, because I like my heroes a little bit on the conflicted side, and hey, I’m growing up in the twenty-first century. Nothing can faze me.

If I survived the Great Twinkie Drought, then I can survive anything.

One of my “Likes” is the cast. Henry Cavill, despite being a relative unknown outside of his TV show, The Tudors, did a great job, in my opinion, of interpreting Superman as he saw fit, much like Christian Bale did as Batman. Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Antje Traue (Zod’s psychopathic right-hand woman) are all excellent while Russell Crowe  and Michael Shannon are complete bad-asses. I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane as well, I just didn’t feel like she was likable enough.

“It’s not an “S”. It’s a symbol of hope for my people.”

“Well down here, it’s an “S”.”

“Well, fuck, I stand corrected then, you pompous bitch.”

Another gripe I have about the movie is the pacing. Throughout the movie, we are treated to flashbacks of Clark’s past life. I wouldn’t have any problem with this if it wasn’t annoying and completely unnecessary. It just seems out of place, and way to frequent to ignore.

Also, while the wanton destruction was awesome and really fun to watch, even if it got hard to follow (SPOILER ALERT!) right after Zod’s tentacle machine is destroyed (SPOILER END) It can seem overblown and it may also seem that Superman ends more lives then he saves when he and Zod smash through Metropolis. This is a valid point until you realize that a)  He’s still learning how to use his powers effectively in this movie, and b) HOLY CRAP people, do you not realize that this is more or less exactly what would happen if you got two people who are literally Gods on Earth fighting each other?

Somebody. ANYBODY. Please. Make. This. Happen.

Overall:

Despite its excess, poor pacing and clearly borrowed story elements, Man of Steel succeeds thanks to its its cast, soundtrack and action make it an extremely enjoyable viewing experience.

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