Tag Archives: Amy Poehler

The Big Emotions of Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’

Inside Out
Four stars (out of four)
PG (mild thematic elements, some action)
94 minutes

I have a confession to make.

I cry watching most Pixar movies.

And not the ones everyone cries at, like “Up” and “Toy Story 3.”

I wept for joy during “Ratatouille,” and teared up during the scene in which jaded critic Anton Ego melts as Remy’s signature dish calls back warm childhood memories.

I cried at the site of WALL-E, that perky, little, good-hearted robot, all alone on a desolate wasteland of a planet.

I sniffled when I saw the short film “Feast,” because I’m a dog lover and it was just so darn sweet.

So of course I cried what felt like buckets during Pixar’s newest, “Inside Out,” but I was relieved to discover I wasn’t the only one.

My husband was sobbing quietly next to me. The teenage girl to my right was blubbering. And the boy across the aisle, just a wee thing on his daddy’s lap, cried out at a pivotal moment: “Bing Bong gone!”

We were all feeling it.

“Inside Out” doesn’t rival the first 20 minutes of “Up” in terms of emotional impact, but it is Pixar’s most heart-rending film yet, especially if you happen to be a parent (bonus points if you’re the parent of a girl) or a grown-up grappling with the inevitable diminishing of delight that seems to accompany adulthood.

(Like “Feast” and the prologue to “Up,” the Hawaiian-themed short film that precedes “Inside Out,” titled “Lava,” is a charming love story in miniature. You just might cry some more.)

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the animation studio that loves to make us weep like babies created an entire film about emotions.

“Inside Out” is, improbably, an adventure inside a young girl’s mercurial brain. As strange as this concept seems, it’s incredibly clever, inventive, original, bordering on experimental even. It’s like nothing Pixar has done before.

It may sound cheesy, but the film contains profound insights into feelings, about the way humans are wired, about the death of joy and the hope that it can be resurrected.

But it’s not just a psychology lesson. Did I mention it’s incredibly entertaining with a superb voice cast that bounces lines off each other in sly, hilarious rhythms?

The movie takes place largely inside the head of Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), a contented young girl from Minnesota with a nurturing mom (Diane Lane) and dad (Kyle MachLachlan), a best friend, and a passion for hockey.

At the controls of her burgeoning mind are a quintet of emotions, including Sadness (Phyllis Smith of “The Office”), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).

Chief among them, though, is Joy, an ephemeral, blue-haired, barefoot pixie, voiced by the excellent Amy Poehler, who has loved Riley since birth and wants only happiness for her young charge.

Joy, who is a bit of a well-meaning control freak, and her colleagues are tasked with regulating Riley’s responses to various situations and safekeeping the core memories that shape her personality, depicted as gleaming marbles racing through the cog-and-wheel clockwork of her mental synapses.

Everything’s running smoothly until Riley’s parents abruptly pick up and move to San Francisco, uprooting their daughter from the home, friends and hobbies she adores. Joy and the team are flummoxed by the challenge of helping the girl adapt to a gloomy Victorian, a stressed out dad, a missing moving truck and an intimidating new school.

While other animation studios might have been content to scratch the surface of Riley’s emotional upheaval, writer-directors Pete Docter (“Up”) and Ronnie del Carmen (a storyboard artist on “Up” and “Ratatouille”) dive deep into a vibrant world of the mind, replete with hilarious archetypes and familiar symbols.

We travel into abstract thought, the subconscious, the imagination and the Hollywood-like headquarters of Dream Production, encountering rainbow unicorns, imaginary friends, scary birthday clowns and faded memories.

It’s all so marvelous, so relatable, so recognizable, a brilliantly realized showcase for Pixar’s sharp writing, buoyant, beautiful animation, and bittersweet brand of intensely personal, authentic storytelling.

In a cynical Hollywood, these filmmakers are among the very few who remain genuinely in touch with their sense of wonder.

Photo: pixelpixies.dk

Those Golden Globe Jokes About George Were Hilarious, But Let’s Remember, He’s a Damn Fine Actor

Once again, the funniest joke of Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremony targeted Hollywood golden boy — or is that good, old boy? — George Clooney.

Mentioning the actor’s soon-to-be-awarded Lifetime Achievement honor, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hilariously referenced Clooney’s wife, Amal Alamuddin.

“Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was elected to a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”

As you may recall, Alamuddin’s hubby was also the butt of a priceless gag last year by Fey and Poehler, who described the movie “Gravity” as “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”

As one of Hollywood’s biggest, most beloved stars and, until recently, a confirmed bachelor with a taste for younger women, George is an easy target. Despite the fact that he’s celebrated as a humanitarian, perhaps his save-the-world credentials aren’t as impressive as his spouse’s.

But watching all those film clips during the Globes lifetime achievement presentation reminded me what a formidable actor he is — one who turned a hunky stint on “ER” into a remarkable, versatile, risk-taking career.

Equally adept at comedy, caper films and classy dramas, this is a guy who has made good choices about the movies he’s appeared in, with a few exceptions, of course. (Can he ever be forgiven for “Batman & Robin”? I don’t know. And honestly, “Monuments Men” wasn’t that bad, despite everyone’s constant ribbing about it.)

In recognition of George’s stellar career, here are 10 of his most memorable film roles.

Feel free to share your favorite Clooney classics.

George-Clooney-in-Out-of-Sight-george-clooney-23757867-1280-720

1. “Out of Sight,” 1998: Clooney’s famous charm is on full display as a smooth criminal in this underrated but slick Elmore Leonard adaptation. The actor shares an unlikely yet smoking hot chemistry with Jennifer Lopez as a U.S. Marshal who can’t resist him.

2. “Three Kings,” 1999: As a jaded Special Forces soldier in director David O. Russell’s satire of the Persian Gulf War, the actor indulges his passion for politics while showcasing his talent for irreverent humor.

3. “O, Brother, Where Art Thou?,” 2000: Dim-witted isn’t a quality you’d typically associate with Clooney, but the actor succeeds brilliantly in portraying a scheming prison escapee who isn’t as bright as he thinks he is in the Coen Brothers’ absurd take on “The Odyssey.”

4. “Ocean’s Eleven,” 2001: Clooney’s penchant for playing suave con artists — not to mention his generous leadership of ensemble casts — reaches its apex with the role of casino-swindling ringleader Danny Ocean in this playful remake.

5. “Good Night, and Good Luck,” 2005: After a rocky start to his directorial career with 2002’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” Clooney forges a place for himself, and partner Grant Heslov, behind the camera with this biopic of First Amendment champion Edward R. Murrow (David Straitharn). He reserves the memorable role of CBS president Fred Friendly for himself.

mclayph

6. “Michael Clayton,” 2007: Clooney may have won his first Oscar for his supporting role in 2005’s “Syriana,” but he should have taken home the trophy for this wrenching drama about a law firm fixer suffering from moral qualms. The film’s final shot, one long, unbroken take focusing on the actor’s face, reveals his gift for subtle expressiveness.

7. “Up in the Air,” 2009: In the role of a seasoned traveler who makes an unsavory living by firing people, Clooney’s sometimes smarmy smile proves an invaluable asset. As his romance with a fellow frequent flyer (Vera Farmiga) melts his character’s heart, George quietly succeeds in breaking ours.

8. “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” 2009: Unlike a lot of A-list actors, Clooney has mostly steered clear of voiceover work, but he made an exception for Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animal fable. He’s perfectly cast as a rapscallion of a carnivore/family man who moonlights as a chicken thief.

9. “The American,” 2010: Director Anton Corbijn’s thriller about a tormented assassin on the lamb in Italy didn’t receive a lot of attention, probably because of its extremely slow pace. But the film contains one of Clooney’s most internal and intriguing roles. In a film with little dialogue, the actor’s face almost solely communicates everything we need to know.

10. “The Descendants,” 2011: Clooney took home a much deserved second Oscar for perhaps his most unattractive role to date in Alexander Payne’s exquisitely awkward tragicomedy. Playing a clueless, cuckolded, grieving husband whose idyllic Hawaiian life is shattered by a family tragedy, the actor delivers one of his deepest performances and one of his best scenes — a heart-rending goodbye speech to his character’s comatose wife.

vlcsnap_2012_11_20_15h13m52s121_large

Photos: watchesinmovies.info, popcornreel.com, yts.re, http://www.fanpop.com.