I could hear the two voices in a heated discussion about whether I should bring a jacket or not. Planning on attending an outdoor event recently, there was one voice in my head telling me to bring a jacket due to the possibility of rain showers. It was also telling me that I needed a jacket since I would be outside after nightfall and I could get cold. The other voice was saying I needed to leave my jacket at home because with the temperature going up into the middle 80s no one would be walking around with a jacket. This argument was going on while I was changing in the locker room of the health club. In the next bank of lockers there was a father with 2 young children, the youngest in diapers. As the older boy was amusing himself by opening and closing the locker doors around him, the father placed his daughter on her back on top of a bench. She immediately let out an ear piercing scream as she burst into wailing tears. The father quickly pulled out his phone, swiping the screen with his thumb like a gunslinger, to position it right in front of the infant’s face. Instantaneously all sounds out of her stopped and the tear ducts dried up. But here is the catch; as soon as the dad tried to move his arm back to change his daughter’s diaper, she revved right up again with crying wails. To me it looked like a Pavlovian experiment as the opposite reactions of the daughter kept flipping back and forth depending on where the smartphone was placed. I now understand how these opposing feelings could rise up so quickly since I have seen this imaginative movie. RILEY, voiced by relative newcomer Kaitlyn Dias, only knew her Minnesota home her entire life. Moving to San Francisco due to her father’s job, Riley’s emotions were sent reeling as her unhappiness grew as the family tried to settle into their new place. This animated dramatic comedy had a more sophisticated story than other animated films I have recently seen. I am not sure if very young children will sit through this movie. At least at the theater where I saw this visual jewel of a picture, the movie trailers and short film before the movie clocked in for a total of 25 minutes. The actors such as Amy Poehler (Mean Girls, Baby Mama) as Joy, Lewis Black (Man of the Year, The Aristocrats) as Anger and Phyllis Smith (Bad Teacher, The Office-TV) as Sadness were just perfect at voicing their characters. The imaginativeness displayed in this adventure has set a new bar of excellence in my opinion. Just the idea of these emotions working together as we reach our adolescence was brilliantly handled in this story. By the end of the film the joy inside of my head was jumping up and down.
3 1/2 stars
Two days prior to watching this movie I had to complete an advanced abuse prevention training for one of the health facilities. The subjects I reviewed did not surprise me; it was remembering things I witnessed during my school years and how they would be so unacceptable now. How many of you remember a teacher keeping a student after class or having a pupil sitting alone with an instructor in a room for detention. According to the training module I read it is no longer acceptable, unless there is easy visibility for other individuals to see the teacher and student. I can go down a list of my teachers and find many who would be considered violators now, besides being inappropriate back then. There was one teacher who periodically would be drunk in class; his face turning bright red as he slurred his words. There was another teacher who was living with one of their former students. Oh and how could I forget the teacher who would throw a ball at their students’ heads to get their attention? If you combine all of my teachers together as one, I am not sure they would be the worst teacher ever compared to the bad teacher in this comedy. Cameron Diaz (Gangs of New York, There’s Something About Mary) played Elizabeth Halsey; who after being dumped by her wealthy fiance was forced to teach at a middle school. Her motivation had nothing to do with the students; instead it was how quickly she could get money to pay for her breast augmentation procedure. I enjoyed Cameron in this role and thought she was outrageous, doing a decent job. The other teachers were too much like cartoon characters, such as Lucy Punch (Hot Fuzz, Stand Up Guys) as Amy Squirrel and Phyllis Smith (Butter, The Office-TV) as Lynn Davies. Surprisingly I thought Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets) was not used enough as PE instructor Russell Gettis and Justin Timberlake’s (In Time, Runner Runner) character was just weird. This award winning movie was crude in parts, but there were a couple of chuckle worthy scenes. I did not find the ending satisfying with the change that took place. Overall watching this film would be a harmless activity, unlike having to be a student at this school.
2 1/4 stars — DVD