2015 has already brought me two of the best movies I’ve seen in years and it’s not even fall yet. Neither of which I was expecting to be as fantastic as they were. Don’t get me wrong, every year there are a few great movies but I can’t remember a time where I’ve enjoyed being in a movie theater as much as I have this year with both Mad Max: Fury Road, which we talked about last month and the first review of this month, Inside Out.
And to think, we have a new Star Wars and a new James Bond coming out later this year!
Inside Out (2015) [PG]
It was honestly with a little trepidation that I approached seeing Inside Out. Yeah, I know, it’s Pixar so it has got be good, right? But I’ve seen a lot of, what some may describe as, “kids movies” lately. Frankly, they are starting to blend together a little bit.
Thing is, I kinda don’t think this is a kids movie.
Ostensibly, Inside Out is about a young girl named Riley who is forced to leave her friends and Minnesota hometown behind when her father transfers to San Francisco. Her feelings during this journey are manifested by anthropomorphized characters that live inside her head and vie for control. It is a brilliant concept and Pixar executes it with its usual excellence.
As I watched, I couldn’t help thinking over and over “What a wonderful way to explain an abstract concept like the ebb and flow of emotions we experience day in and day out.” But it also left me wondering if children were going to find it as enjoyable and moving as I did. But then I heard some tiny laughter as Anger (portrayed by Lewis Black) ranted for a moment and spouted flames from his head. Rest assured, kids are going to enjoy this as much as adults.
Indeed, Inside Out is so cleverly done, so well made, so detailed and thoughtful in its portrayal of a young person’s emotional life that I would be tempted to argue that it is Pixar’s finest achievement to date. Don’t get me wrong, Monsters, Inc is still my favorite to watch but that’s my heart talking. I just love those characters. Same with Toy Story. The thing is though, Inside Out is a better movie than both of those and that’s saying a lot.
9 paws out of 10
An Honest Liar (2015) [R]
With a title like An Honest Liar, you’re probably thinking this movie is about lawyers. But worry not folks, this one is about . . . well, a liar who is very concerned with the truth and goes around unmasking other liars.
This documentary details the life of magician, escape artist and self-professed liar, James “The Amazing” Randi. Randi’s story begins with magic. Obsessed with Houdini, Randi became a magician and escape artist and attempted to best Houdini’s illusions and escapes. As he aged, Randi became angry with people who used their knowledge of deception and illusion to claim supernatural powers so he began a life long mission to debunk psychics and charlatans.
Randi would argue it takes a liar to unmask a liar and the documentary shows Randi employing deceit to reveal deceivers. But these are perhaps not Randi’s or the documentary’s greatest tricks. I’ll leave that for you to discern.
More importantly, this is a wonderful portrayal of a complex and interesting man’s life. It’s warm, funny and as full of life as James Randi himself at age 87.
7.5 paws out of 10