‘Inside Out’: Kids’ movies with the kids

By on June 24, 2015

I’m back where it all started. Literally, I’m writing from the place where I became overly addicted to movies: Farmington, Maine.

I’d always enjoyed movies, even as a kid. It wasn’t until I was in college that my life started to revolve around film —another literal statement. See, while attending the University of Maine at Farmington I took a part-time job as projectionist/manager of a small, independently owned movie house called Narrow Gauge Cinemas. This was when movies came on film.

I spliced the reels, which arrived in steel, octagonal boxes, and transferred the spools onto one large, rotating platter. After attaching trailers (or “previews” to those who’ve never worked in the industry), I fed the film through a series of levers and pulleys, ultimately through optical and audible sensors. With a flick of a switch the projector came to life; light shone through the film and the audience below enjoyed movies like “Titanic,” “Fight Club,” and “Saving Private Ryan.” It was a wonderful time and the perfect job for a non-traditional student. Work was never a dreaded task and I saw every movie to hit the silver screen for a number of years.

I’m revisiting Maine and I stopped in at the old theater. Things have changed. The box office is located in the old game room and tickets are purchased through a window instead of a front desk. But, wow, I think the prices are the same! I dropped a minuscule $16 to get my family of four tickets to “Inside Out,” bought everyone some popcorn —the life blood of revenue for a theater (not ticket prices) —and settled into the new stadium seating.

“Inside Out,” the latest animated film from Disney Pixar, might be a little heady for many young viewers —pun intended. We first meet Riley when she is just a baby and inside her head is Joy (Amy Poehler), the personification of the feeling providing the newborn human with sadness. Soon after we meet Sadness (Phyllis Smith, “The Office”), Anger (comedian Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Fear (SNL alum Bill Hader). The emotions control Riley’s moods and ultimately lead her astray when Joy and Sadness are sucked into long term memory. Riley rebels from her parents after they move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

“My favorite was Disgust,” said my daughter. “Fear was very funny.”

My son, who always replies to the question of a favorite said, “All of them.”

Disney Pixar’s newest offering, “Inside Out,” explores the multiple personalities that might reside inside a person’s head, and represents them with animated characters. Michael Upton thinks the plot is a bit cerebral for the kids, but perfect for their parents to enjoy.

Disney Pixar’s newest offering, “Inside Out,” explores the multiple personalities that might reside inside a person’s head, and represents them with animated characters. Michael Upton thinks the plot is a bit cerebral for the kids, but perfect for their parents to enjoy.

I actually laughed the most at some of the ancillary characters. “Inside Out” has a star-studded, comedic cast, including funny man Richard Kind (as Riley’s imaginary friend who is officially described by Disney as a “pink cotton candy nougat-filled elephant-cat hybrid, [with a] porkpie hat, purple bow tie, pink striped legs, brown jacket, [and] matching fingerless gloves), Diane Lane, Paula Poundstone, Bobby Moynihan, Frank Oz, Flea, and NPR’s Peter Sagal.

The kids in the audience rarely laughed at all. I think the abstract nature of the movie left the little ones wondering; while the characters are cute and almost adorable, they deliver more seriousness than hilarity. At the end, the movie gets a bit solemn. Tears are likely to be shed by most parents in the audience. It reminded me of “Up,” and rightly so.

All of this said, I really liked “Inside Out.” Oscar award-winning writer/director Pete Doctor (“Up,” “Monster’s Inc.”) has shown he needs to have more creative control on upcoming Disney Pixar projects. Maybe they just need to enlist one of the comedic actors to add a bit of humor to the script.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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