Inside Out (2015)

INSIDE-OUT-8-1940x1092

****/*****

Have you ever wanted to read somebody’s mind?

The latest animated adventure release from Pixar takes us into the mind of 11 year old Riley, who struggles with the fact that her family has uprooted to a new city. The main characters are the emotions that control Riley’s everyday responses to the world around her. These come in the form of Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness.

Funny and witty, this film delves into the girls unconscious, making it a sort of hyper-real universe with a screen into what Riley is seeing. The way that the brains functions and how memories are contained is very clever – in the form of crystal balls of different colours which indicate the emotion that captured each memory. In addition to this, other parts of the conscious are explored such as children’s imagination and abstract thought.

Directed by Pete Docter, With an all-star voice cast lead by comedienne Amy Poehler as Joy, known for her happy, bouncy personality makes her perfect for this role. Poehler is supported by Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith, which all are perfectly appropriate for their respective characters.

Finishing off the star cast is Richard Kind as imaginary friend Bing Bong, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan as Riley’s parents, and of course Kaitlyn Dias voices Riley herself.

The soundtrack is melodic and sweet, perfectly complimenting the wonder and magic of the imagination, whilst also leading the audience into the melancholic anguish when Joy is faced with despair.

The way that comedy was presented in the form of day-to-day occurrences really stood out to me and has made this film very special. For example, a little exchange between Riley’s parents at the dinner table, in which the audience are invited into their individual ‘mind control rooms’. The male fathers’ emotions cannot understand what the mothers’ female emotions are trying to hint at, whilst the female emotions tut and hiss that the male emotions are useless. In addition, the panic of unnamed teenage boys’ emotions as his mind control room goes into meltdown because Riley (A girl!) has spoken to him.

A very interesting concept that is thorough in its’ approach and its’ delivery, Inside Out is in my mind a stunning success. Beautifully colourful and gripping from start to finish with an array of funny and well thought out characters, a must see for audience members of any age.

Advertisements

Ted 2 (2015)

maxresdefault-5

***.5/*****

Here we go again! The sequel to Seth McFarlane‘s hysterically funny 2012 hit, about a crude teddy bear that comes to life.

The film takes place 6 months after John (played by Mark Whalberg) has divorced from fiancee of the first film, Lori. Ted (voiced by McFarlane) is marrying Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and all is near-enough well. Flash forward to three years later, and amids the couples’ arguing and aggressiveness, they decide to have a baby. In order to qualify as an adoptive parent, Ted is then forced to prove that he is a person within the court of law – with the help of new love interest and trainee lawyer Samantha (played by Amanda Seyfried), and even a small part to play by the one and only Morgan Freeman.

The first laugh-out-loud moment comes fairly early on when Ted and John go to a sperm bank in order to deposit a sample for Teds’ baby, and the duo get caught up in the sample room.

Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) makes an appearance, now working for Hasbro, the toy company, and once again makes trouble for the pair as he tries desperately to grab the bear that he has always wanted.

With ups and downs, and even a trip to Comic-Con with a hilarious encounter with a model of the Starship Enterprise, the film flows well, and the ridiculous adventures that ensue almost seem believable and obvious in the way that the chain of events are presented to the audience. With slight chuckles at some moments, and a couple of decent belly-laughs, Ted 2 lived up to the hype that surrounds it. With references to the first film, with Thunder Buddies and Flash Gordon alike, we are taken along the next stage of Teds’ life gladly – and the films’ ending promises to leave you shaking your head with a smile on your face as you leave the theatre.

Life After Beth (2014)

**.5/*****

The concept is simple.

Girlfriend dies, boyfriend is distraught. But what happens when girlfriend rises from the dead, with no explanation, not knowing that she died in the first place?

Jeff Baena’s comedy horror Life After Beth tells the story of how Zach (Dane Dehaan) deals with the sudden death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) after she is resurrected slightly differently to how he remembers her.

With a supporting cast of John C. Riley and Anna Kendrick, this film promised laughs and heartbreak through the romantic tension built by the couple pulled apart by fate. With this in mind, however, I feel like the film falls short in places.

The film opens with Zach shopping for black napkins before the funeral of his beloved Beth. His mourning process is highlighted in the early scenes, and Dehaan’s portrayal of heartbreak is believable, which makes us eager for Beths’ revival.

She is resurrected shortly after Zach and Beths’ father (played by Riley) bond over smoking weed whilst playing chess – with no explanation of how this miracle could have occurred.

The comedy timing portrayed between Beths’ father and Beth’s ignorance to her situation and lust for Zach is effective in its’ approach, with Riley’s awkward father reactions to the sexual advances of her daughter to her boyfriend; and the refusal to tell her what has happened to her.

The early scenes between Dehaan and Plaza are beautifully done – making the audience believe in their love and the carefree nature of their romance. Zach is delighted to have his girlfriend back and we are delighted for him, but not for long.

As she begins to decay, her personality changes and she becomes more and more angry and frustrated, lashing out and attacking potential new love interest Erica (Anna Kendrick). The confusion that Beth feels is portrayed well by Plaza, with her need to be close to Zach in this scary place in which she is unsure if she is dead or alive.

At this point, the film loses its’ grip on my emotions with how out of hand it becomes within a matter of scenes. All of a sudden all the dead people in the whole neighbourhood are resurrected, spurring a miniature community-wide apocalypse whereby the old owners of Zach’s house and his deceased grandfather enter the home.

As the film draws to a close, we are invited into the intimacy of Zach and Beth’s relationship one last time in her final moments and his goodbye. A spark of recognition by the now completely overtaken Beth creates one last potential heartfelt moment, which draws to a close the feelings of love and hurt that these characters feel – however it is undermined by the ridiculousness of the comedic aftermath of her death – as she rolls down the hill dragged by an oven like a rag doll in a washing machine.

The end scene of Zach placing Beths’ scarf and her fathers’ chess piece on their respective graves is a nice touch, however the end just sets up for his next relationship as he gets into the car and asks Erica on a date. As the film finishes, the plot is also still unresolved. We never find out how the towns’ deceased came back to life for a period of two days and then vanished again, or why.

Perhaps this film is just slapstick and silly from start to finish, as the plot suggests, yet I feel that as a viewer that is invited into the romantic aspects of the story and connections between characters, this was not fulfilled throughout and perhaps lacks the clarity that was needed for me to feel satisfied as the end credits began to roll.