Inside Out

Inside_Out_2015_film_posterI have come to expect great things from Pixar; I think everyone has. All of their films have been amazing, from Toy Story to Ratatouille, each Pixar movie has entertained and delighted. That isn’t to say that some films weren’t better than others. Wall-E isn’t exactly the kind of film you watch over and over again, but you can’t call any of their movies bad. That’s a lot of pressure for an animation studio as it churns out its latest movie. But once again, Pixar comes through with Inside Out.

Inside Out is about the emotions inside of your head that make you who you are–Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. These little guys control your feelings and actions; they are what make you tick. This story focuses on Riley, a twelve year old girl from Minnesota, and the emotions in her head. Riley is a happy kid who loves her family and playing hockey. Riley’s family moves to San Francisco, which, as you can imagine, really sends the emotions of a 12-year-old spinning. Amidst the chaos inside Riley’s head, Joy and Sadness get separated from headquarters and lost in long term memory with Riley’s core memories–the memories that shape her personality. Now, Joy and Sadness must work together to get back to headquarters before it’s too late for Riley.

As expected of any Pixar movie, Inside Out is very funny. The whole theater I was in was laughing out loud, kids and adults. It’s very fun, but also pulls on the emotional heart strings. The voice acting is very good, starring Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Mindy Kahing as Disgust, Lewis Black as Anger, and Bill Hader as Fear. Every character is entertaining, and it’s very funny to get a look at the emotions in other people’s heads (stay for the first few minutes of the credits). And much of the humor is very clever, so it will entertain adults as well as children.

Inside Out - Emotion Poster Collaboration

The only thing I didn’t like was one of the characters who helps Joy and Sadness, Riley’s childhood imaginary friend Bing Bong. I understood the purpose his character served in the plot, but he was too, too weird–like a pink cotton candy elephant. Even in the fun, imaginative world of Riley’s head, he didn’t fit with the rest of the characters. I’m sure the kids in the theater liked him, but I thought he was too weird and discolored the flavor of the middle part of the film.

But Inside Out isn’t just a funny children’s film. As also expected from Pixar films, it had an important message. The message may surprise children, but probably not adults. The message was that sadness has a place in our lives. While we want children, and adults, to be happy all the time and not suffer the pain of feeling sad, sadness is a part of life. And even though it hurts, it serves a good and noble purpose. It makes us sympathetic to others, empathetic to others. Because we have felt sadness, we can comfort those who are sad. Sadness also lets others know we need help, so they can comfort us. It can bring people together as much as joy can.

sadnessjoyLife is a mixture of every kind of emotion–joy, anger, fear, disgust, and sadness. They all serve a purpose. Inside Out is a must-see movie for children and adults.

Parks and Rec

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope.

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope.

While my brother Payton was home for Christmas break, we pretty much did one thing: watched Parks and Recreation. I had just finished watching every episode on Netflix, and he had recently done the same, so we went through and watched all of our favorite episodes together. It was fun. I haven’t watched a show that funny in a very long time. I remember in high school when everyone was obsessed with The Office and other various shows, but I could never get into those because mostly, the humor is either sex jokes or stupid jokes. Parks and Rec, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air because it was actually clever.

The show follows Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the Parks and Rec department in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana, and her friends and coworkers. It follows their personal and professional lives through the random, meaningful, and hilarious situations that arise in their small town.

L to R: Andy, Ron, Donna, April, Leslie, Anne, Chris, Jerry, and Tom.

L to R: Andy, Ron, Donna, April, Leslie, Anne, Chris, Jerry, and Tom.

Sure, there are sex jokes and stupid jokes in Parks and Rec, but most of the humor comes from the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the characters. The show utilizes the extreme personalities of the characters for most of the humor, and the better you know the characters, the funnier the jokes are. There are witty puns, physical comedy, long running jokes, and a wide variety of humor that makes the show appealing to people with different sense of humor.

Ben and Leslie

Ben and Leslie

But in addition to the jokes, Parks and Rec also has plenty of real moments to keep the show grounded. The characters care a great deal about each other, and sometimes the things they do or go through for each other can be very endearing. The show also disperses surprisingly deep moments and life lessons in between the humor to make the show more valuable than a simple sitcom.

The show also progresses. There’s nothing more annoying than when a TV show remains stagnant in a particular plot or relationship, like in Bones. Rather than keep the plot stagnant at the Parks and Rec department, the show progresses from the department to a city council campaign, to city council work and beyond. Every character progresses, grows, and develops as the show moves on, which allows the viewers to feel like they are actually involved in the characters’ lives.

Parks and Rec is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while because it is truly funny, something actually missing from most comedies today, but it also balances its humor with real, deep moments that allow viewers to truly invest in the characters and the story. The characters are all loveable, even the ones you love to hate. The show is full of romantic relationships viewers can relate to, but even more so, Parks and Rec is full of friendships that are the true heart of the show. It is self deprecating and wholesome at the same time, funny yet meaningful. It’s a well-rounded show that I would heartily recommend. Plus, it is hilarious as anything.

Best friends Ann and Leslie.

Best friends Ann and Leslie.