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.


The Romance of Adventure

ImageA few weeks ago, Emily wrote a post about the Tumblr trend of listing your “top 10 favorite books” or the “top 10 books that changed your life” or something along those lines. I already wrote about the top book on that list—Lord of the Rings, no brainer—but now I’m going to write about another book that is both a favorite book and a book that changed my life: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

As Emily reviews her top ten books, she’ll explain how each of them shaped her into the writer she is today (which is an awesome writer, by the way). Ivanhoe didn’t influence me as a writer in any major way, but it certainly shaped a large part of my childhood. From about the time I was eight to the time I was thirteen I was incredibly interested in all Romantic stories—King Arthur, Robin Hood, the middle ages, knights in shining armor, dragons, epic adventures, etc. I think a lot of kids go through this kind of phase. I certainly wasn’t the only one in my family to be very into King Arthur and Robin Hood. But for me, a lot of this interest began with the story of Ivanhoe.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t read Ivanhoe when I was eight. My parents used to buy me books from the “Great Illustrated Classic” series, classics that were abridged for younger readers like myself. That’s how I first read Ivanhoe, and I didn’t need Scott’s heavy handed English in order to be affected by the book. Rather, his characters and the romance of adventure lured me into his story.


Walter Scott

For those of you who haven’t read the book, Ivanhoe follows several main characters. It takes place during in England during a time of high tension between the Saxons and the Normans. Ivanhoe is one of many young men who goes to fight in the Crusades, leaving behind Rowena, the Saxon noblewoman he loves. For my senior thesis in college I wrote about Rowena as the medieval heroine archetype, but she was definitely not my favorite character. The female character I wanted to be was Rebecca, the Jewish woman Ivanhoe saves from being burned at the stake. The book also features a plethora of bad guys, like Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Count Front-de-Boeuf. But even more exciting for an impressionable young reader, Ivanhoe includes the figure Robin Hood and King Richard the Lion Heart. Needless to say that any book featuring Robin Hood is sure to include romance and adventure.

Ivanhoe was one of my first literary exposures to the romantic and adventurous world of the Middle Ages. It had the love story between Rowena and Ivanhoe, the adventure of Robin Hood, the heroic courage of Rebecca, and anything else a developing imagination could want in a book. It was iconic literature for my Robin Hood/King Arthur phase, a phase I never fully came out of. It’s the reason I like reading about epic adventures and grand (and sometimes unresolved) love stories. Ivanhoe is a mix of many of the exciting things about the Middle Ages, as well as a few of the not-so-good things. But overall, it is a fanciful tale perfect for expanding the imagination of a young reader.


Scene from the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine.