Tagged: Lewis Black

John Ostrander is Late To The Party

inside out disney

I’m not the most punctual person. Sometimes I am late to the party. Well, okay – I’m usually late to the party. Maybe showing up just as the party is ending. These columns, for example, usually get in just under the wire thus making my revered editor tear out what little hair he has left. I think of it as part of a game we play. I don’t think he likes the game that much.

I sometimes lose this game of temporal brinkmanship. Recently I missed a scheduled flight (for the first time in decades). I think I arrived at my brother-in-law Fred’s 75th birthday in time for his 76th birthday. I also have missed seeing at the theater some of the movies I really do want to see. Or getting in to see them just under the wire.

I recently had a chance to see Pixar’s latest offering, Inside Out, just before it left the theater. And I barely made it to that. So anything I may have to say about it may be moot. If you intended to see it, you probably already have and, if you don’t intend to see it, you won’t care. Maybe, however, you’re one of these people who wait until movies come out on disc or to Netflix or whatever so you can see it on your Apple Watch or whatever.

I do not approve of this practice; yes, I also buy discs but it is usually for movies I have experienced in the theater first which I regard as the proper way to see the film. Seeing a photograph of a famous painting is all right but it is not the same as seeing the painting itself. It’s better than not seeing it at all but it’s not the same experience. Hmmm… I’ve drifted a bit off-topic.

I’ve been a fan of Pixar for a long time and have seen almost all their films in the theater first. I initially passed on Cars because I’m not a fan of stock car racing. My mistake. I now have the disc which I watch frequently. I did, however, pass on Cars 2 and that, from what I’ve read, may have been the right choice.

Inside Out focuses on an eleven year old girl, Riley, who moves with her Mom and Dad from Minnesota to San Francisco. The gimmick is that we see Riley’s life and her responses from inside her head which are controlled by five essential emotions – Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness. Riley’s interior life is brilliantly imagined and realized visually. There are surprises at every turn and a deeply involving story. The movie is wonderfully cast (whoever thought to cast Lewis Black as Anger deserves a raise) and terrifically acted, full of genuine emotion. It also feels psychologically true to this layman. Inside Out has better characters, dialogue, and deeper insights into the human psyche than many so-called  “straight” live dramas.

This is what Pixar so often does. You think you’re going to see an animated film – a cartoon – and they give you so much more than you anticipated. Pixar’s films should have a shot at the Best Picture Oscar and not just for Animated Feature. I think they’re that good.

So, if you’re one of those who wait to watch movies at home, add Inside Out to your playlist and kick it towards the top. If it is still playing in a theater near you, run out and see it while you have the chance.

Don’t be late to the party.


Box Office Democracy: “Inside Out”

I can’t make heads or tails of Inside Out. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film to pieces, it’s the best Pixar film this decade and one of the most emotionally wrenching experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater. It’s a gift of a movie and I feel privileged to get to enjoy it. What I don’t understand is how this is a kids movie.

I frequently say that a good children’s movie should have plenty for parents to enjoy and frequently take weaker studios to task for aiming too low with franchises like Madagascar and Ice Age but perhaps we’ve gone too far in the other direction. Inside Out is a stunningly mature film and I don’t know what a younger audience could possibly be getting out of this except for the thrill of seeing their parents openly weep for 90 minutes.

This is, of course, a bit of an exaggeration— there are plenty of accessible parts of Inside Out. The characters are bright and broad and the voice talent is excellent. I expected fantastic things from Amy Pohler, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black but Phyllis Smith steals the show. I didn’t expect much from her because she never terribly impressed me on The Office but she’s hilarious as Sadness. The movie is consistently funny and the humor is nice and broad and seemed to be hitting with everyone in my theater. At the root the story is the very familiar fish out of water journey that is a hallmark of storytelling in general and particularly stories for children. There’s plenty for kids to like here.

What I’m having trouble reconciling is how amazingly sad Inside Out can be. The film deals heavily with the sense of loss that comes with growing up and the people and things we leave behind. Inside Out follows an eleven year-old girl, Riley, as she moves from Minnesota to San Francisco and the personified emotional turmoil this traumatic event creates. We see aspects of her personality physically destroyed, a thorough examination of what happens to forgotten memories, and a treatment of a beloved childhood imaginary friend that I’m not sure I’ll ever get over completely. Children probably won’t find these moments sad in the same way an adult would because the sadness comes from a place of nostalgia for childhood that comes with age, but absent that feeling I’m just not sure what these moments have to offer and worry that it’s a movie full of dead space.

I’m probably overthinking this. I saw this film in a packed house with many families and there were none of the telltale signs of restless kids bored out of their skulls. I’m not giving the target audience enough credit nor am I respecting the filmmakers with a tremendous track record of making beloved films. I’m a little uncomfortable with how devastating Pixar is willing to be with these movies but if you made me choose between getting output like this and WALL-E, and Up or the comparably sedate stuff like Monsters University and Cars 2 I would rather cry my way through the more ambitious films.