Movie review: “Inside Out” (2015)

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“What do we do? What do we do?! What do we do?!?!”

“We could try crying until we can’t breathe!”

“Or we could pull out that one curse word we know! It’s a doozy!”

Over the course of its nearly unprecedented winning streak (for family features, only the early Snow White/Bambi/Fantasia days of Disney are probably the least bit comparable), the Pixar animation studio has shown a thorough and innate understanding of the process and pitfalls of growing up, not to mention a remarkable facility with the sorts of stories, and themes, and details, and moments, that tend to subconsciously bind children of basically any age to their parents, and vice versa, while also reinforcing existing bonds, whether said moments should happen in life or in a packed theater. As a childless, more-or-less confirmed bachelor, I am, one might imagine, not the veteran of countless kids’ movies, inside the theater or out, though I have long been an unvarnished Pixar enthusiast. Unlike its parent, The Walt Disney Company, Pixar has always strived, with an edifying success level, to create films that are intended to be enjoyed by the whole family, and not just because it makes for good ad copy. Multi-directional, all-encompassing appeal is a perilously thin line to walk, but can also be an incredibly noble calling, and up until Pixar’s recent doldrums, marked mostly by superfluous sequels and radio silence, I was grateful just to be included in the crowd. Continue reading “Movie review: “Inside Out” (2015)”

The Top Ten (+5): New millennium stand-up comedy albums

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Obligatory disclaimer: What follows is my latest list of highly specific things I like, presented in the order I like them. This list makes no allowances for anyone’s taste but my own, nor for colossal, head-slappingly obvious omissions, of which, I’m sure, there are many. It’s pretty much as complete as it’s ever gonna get. By reading further, you absolve me, the author, from any liability related to your potentially scarred psyche – permanently furrowed brows, heart palpitations, etc. Feedback on your own favorites, or what I got wrong or right (or wrong), is both welcome and encouraged.  

In a different time, under different circumstances, I might have been one of those outdoor kids so romanticized in fiction, parenting guides, and modern television commercials touting youth activity (in my day, the NFL sadly couldn’t be bothered to help motivate my butt off the couch). Ideally, I would’ve been off running through a field somewhere, or climbing trees, catching crawdads down at the creek bed or building forts with my little friends. Instead, I was the shy latchkey kid of a hardworking, divorced parent, often left to my own devices and largely bereft of friends. So I spent my childhood diligently making my own fun. I liked watching sports, but didn’t play any except youth soccer and backyard basketball. I loved to read and listen to music, and spent an awful lot of time formulating what would become lifelong passions at the feet of MTV and HBO. I never felt deprived. HBO in particular would prove to be a seminal influence, and among its specialties in the 1980s were movies, boxing, and stand-up comedy. I’ve already spoken a time or four here on the first two topics, but comedy proved no less influential on me growing up. Continue reading “The Top Ten (+5): New millennium stand-up comedy albums”