Amy Poehler

June 20, 2015

Inside Out (2015)

WEEPY

Inside Out – Weepy

So this past week Justin, DJ, and I put our top five Pixar films up over on Letterboxd. Most of our picks overlapped as we all seem to have the same sensibilities when it comes to Pixar Films. “Car” is trash, “Brave” is overrated, and both “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story 3” all have special places in our hearts. Of course we all know where this is going; now where does “Inside Out” fit into that list. Well, for me, it’s a tough call. And I’ll just put it out there; this film made me weep…..in public…..in front of my wife…..TWICE! What other Pixar film has done that to me so far? We’ll let’s get into it.

“Inside Out” is a story so relateable, it’s scary. It’s the story of an 11-year old girl named Riley, who is uprooted from her home in Minnesota and relocates to San Francisco. That’s pretty much the story, on the surface, but of course what would a Pixar film be without something magical. Inside Riley’s head resides her emotions, namely Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness. While all five of these emotions try to work in tandem of course hijinks pop up and we end up going on an adventure that follows Joy and Sadness as they try to cope with Riley.

This might not be the best synopsis, but it’s the best I can do without giving up too much of the story and of course the adventure.

There are a few nitpicks I have to get out of the way first. One, and this is a quibble, this isn’t a film for kids. While it’s colorful and vibrant, the pace is frenetic, and unless you are of age to appreciate what is going on inside Riley’s head and/or have gone though something similar, the story will be lost on younger kids. Which again, is fine by me. Let the kid’s have the colors, I’ll take everything else.

Two, while Amy Poehler and Lewis Black are great as Joy and Anger, respectively, I feel like the rest of the cast gets lost in the shuffle. Fear, voiced by Bill Hader, seems underutilized, and Disgust, voiced by Mindy Kaling is just kind of there.

So, this is where things get heavy. This film is heartbreaking. Not only is it personal, but it’s just so damn on the nose. We’ve had our spats with our parents, we’ve been angry with friends, we’ve had to deal with being the new kid in school. There isn’t a thing in this film that you can’t find some level ground with, and it’s just so beautiful. The ideas are simple, but so very effective, especially the 3rd act which will rip your soul apart.

Pete Docter, who was also the madman behind “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.” knows how to just get under your skin enough to make your rethink your childhood and adulthood, but he also knows how to make a film with pathos, heart, and plenty of smarts. The idea, which is so simple, that you need sadness to make your appreciate the joy in your life is maniacally effective and will reduce you to a wad of bubblegum.

All in all, “Inside Out” not only lives up to the hype it’s getting, but it far exceeds anything else that Pixar has made on an emotional level. For a film based on raw emotion, I don’t think many films really come close.

Fun Fact: During Riley’s first dream sequence about her new house, you can hear the Haunted Mansion ride music in the background. The more you know.

July 15, 2014

They Came Together

They Came Together: Horrible

I Justin Polizzi have decided to Kill Myself, This is my last will and testament.

Why?

Because I watched this film, I don’t wanna live anymore.

—– 83 mins before the suicide —–

So one moment I’m trying to pick a film to review.

Hey, They Came Together, okay that looks good. Hey look at all of the people in this film!

Wow this is going to be a fun film. Boy was I wrong. Now before someone goes, “You didn’t get it!” No I got it, its a spoof and that was accomplished. What wasn’t accomplished was the fact it is also a comedy. It’s not funny, just not my type I guess. I really feel cheated here, like just because we’re all friends lets throw together a poorly made film. It’s a shame so many good films get passed up for stuff like this to make a terrible film on purpose. There is a scene where Christopher Meloni shits himself and blames it on someone else. Like the whole scene is pointless and just shows how stupid this film is. Here is another one, Paul Rudd goes to a bar and the bartender comes over and we have the same two lines repeated over and over for a solid 5 mins.
It’s a shame, the trailer is good, watching the movie is another thing. They just didn’t try, and that sadness me.
Rudd and Poehler are good, that I’ll say.
David Wain says, “It’s a really stupid romance comedy”…. Man I guess he did set out to make it like that. 
They just drop the comedy part.
Was I too harsh? Maybe Im just spoofing a bad review…we may never know.
November 6, 2012

Election Day Special: Election

SURPRISING
On this election day, I wanted to talk about a film that really encapsulates what most modern elections, especially this one, are about.  A revenge seeking electorate creating a candidate that looks great superficially but is merely an empty shell underneath, then propping up said candidate to satisfy their own deeper resentment for his opponent, no matter what lines they cross.  That film my fellow Americans is the 1999 comedy Election, starring Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein, and Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon.  
Election is a film that caught me by SURPRISE when I first saw it.  This was Chris Klein’s first film, Witherspoon wasn’t big yet and Broderick was dead to me after Godzilla.  So, I wasn’t expecting it to be as funny as it is.  The wholesome setting and simple story mixed with the quirky and sometimes dirty humor is a terrific combination.  It is much like Fargo in that regard.  Election and Citizen Ruth were director Alexander Payne’s beginnings in finding the abnormal in normal modern society.  They are the roots for his later films About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants.  Though, Election is a little more slapstick than the rest.  Some of the jokes are subtle and hidden, like the the way Tracy Flick’s block letter buttons and posters seem to look like something else if squint at it.  Then some are just over the top hilarious, like Mr. McAllister’s encounter with a bee.   Overall, Election is as great as it is because of its characters and the performances of the actors playing them.  So, I want to focus mainly on that.  
Tracy Flick is simply amazing.  She is that girl you hated in your chemistry class that reminded the teacher to give out homework.  The girl who had a fuzzy pink scrunchy that matched her fuzzy pink sweater that matched her fuzzy pink pen cap.  The girl that would stalk the halls like a hungry lioness, accosting people with a clipboard and guilting them into participating in a food drive or a blood drive or a clothes for blind Indonesian midgets drive.  Man, I hated that girl.   Reese Witherspoon plays this overly ambitious go-getter in a scarily accurate way.  Amy Poehler, whether she admits to it or not, owes her entire character of Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreations to Reese.  Tracy Flick is Leslie Knope in high school.  It is uncanny.  Reese has gone on to do many things since, including winning the Oscar for Walk The Line.  However, when I want to point to a great Witherspoon performance, I point to Tracy Flick every time.  
It is a bit surreal watching Matthew Broderick go from being the teen rebel to the vindictive and devious authority figure.  Shows I’m getting old.  Though, Broderick plays the character of Mr. McAllister in a more sympathetic way than Dean Rooney.  His performance, as well as all the performances in Election, are done in a way where you can understand where each character is coming from.  When I first saw this film, I saw Mr. McAllister as the bad guy.  However, the older I got, the more I began to side with his point of view.  The one crying shame about Broderick is that he does such a great job in this film but in the same year he does such a horrid job in this one.  
Bar none…Bar…none, this is Chris Klein’s funniest performance.  Well, I’m not counting his unintentionally hilarious performance in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li.  Paul Metzler is the unsung comedic force of this film.  His aloof, matter of fact, ho-hum nature is so funny and SURPRISINGLY real, I was convinced for a while that Klein was pretty much like Paul in real life.  All of the narrations in this film are funny but his make me laugh the most.  
A lot of kudos should go to actress Jessica Campbell.  Her portrail of Tammy Metzler and her tragic side story is one of the most heartfelt moments of the film.  She feels real in the role and makes the emotions of a teenage sexual identity crisis seem genuine and still funny.    
Election is one of those movies that gets overlooked when it comes to great comedies.   It proves you can still get a belly laugh out of an audience without a flatulence joke or some once great comedian dressed in a fat suit.  Go out and vote…PICK FLICK….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
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