Halloweekend 2017: Celebrating the Best of Horror

Let’s face it. Horror movies have a bad reputation. Recently, the genre has consisted of either a remake, a sequel, or, just plainly, an unoriginal, uninspired horror flick. In that way, it’s easy to forget how impactful horror films really were to the industry. Horror filmmakers weren’t afraid to break barriers and cause controversy. Because of these achievements, they have inspired countless horror films to this day, but, at times, it’s hard to find those original ideas.

So, this Halloween, celebrate the old and the new. This year, since Halloween is on a Tuesday, the “Halloweekend” is October 28-30. Each day represents a different horror subgenre and brings two films: the horror movies that have influenced many, and the newer horror comedies that prove that horror can still be original.

Friday, October 28 – Slasher Film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

The slasher film is probably what most people think of when a horror movie comes to mind. With so many out there, there are many patterns that far and few have been able to break. However, all of those – now redundant – patterns can be traced back to one film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Before even classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th, Texas Chain Saw Massacre was the film that shocked and scared audiences everywhere – and still to this day. Not only does the killer himself terrify, but also the ambiance of the film. The direction of each element made a perfect horror film and still holds validity today. Without this classic, the genre would be entirely different – maybe even unrecognizable. Until then, not many took the risk of adding the immense amount of gore and intensity that Texas Chain Saw Massacre possesses. It definitely didn’t hold back on its general grotesque nature. Its mark is definitely seen in a numerous amount of films, including the next pick: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. This movie, in a word, is absurd. There is no denying that this is a goofy, unpredictable, crazy film. Even the title is questionable. Nevertheless, the hilarity is undeniable. Each and every turn the movie takes is absolute insanity, but that’s what makes the film great. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a satire of the “cabin in the woods” slasher film but doesn’t rely on overused jokes that can be seen in any Scary Movie comedy. Though not the greatest in the world, it’s still a fun watch, especially after viewing a film so gory and menacing.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre is available on Amazon Prime and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is available on Hulu and Netflix.

Saturday, October 29 – Gothic Horror: Nosferatu (1922) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

The next day centers around a creature that has been, perhaps, over-utilized over the past ten years: the vampire. Though the Twilight and True Blood series have made the monster into a love story, there was a time when people thought the creature was utterly horrifying – that time, of course, being in the 1920s. Nevertheless, Nosferatu is nothing short of a groundbreaking horror film in the silent era. Though it may not be everybody’s first choice for being on a horror movie list, the film still has its qualities that can get under a person’s skin. The film has inspired not only horror films but the film industry in general. Its ability to still be recognizable today, despite being made nearly 100 years ago, shows just how iconic the film really is. There are even elements of it in the other pick of the day: What We Do in the Shadows. Not only is it hilarious, but it is, arguably, one of the most underrated horror comedy films in recent history. The New Zealand film is a mockumentary on three vampires and, though it’s set in the modern world, these vampires are still stuck in the past. While still being able to have its fair share of scares, What We Do in the Shadows uses its smart wit and charm to its advantage, creating a fantastic balance of horror and comedy that not many are able to achieve. These two vampire features break the mold of the now repetitive vampire film and instead allow more originality in the genre, both with a classic and a dark comedy from 2014.

Nosferatu and What We Do in the Shadows are both available on Amazon Prime.

Sunday, October 30 – Movie Monsters: Night of the Living Dead (1968) and An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Ending the weekend is a pair of cult classics that have made their marks in cinema history. Featuring iconic movie monsters, they both changed the genre and the icon of their respective creatures for years to come. To start, Night of the Living Dead revolutionized the horror genre with its gory spectacle and grisly depictions of the zombie. Similar to what Texas Chain Saw Massacre did to slasher films, Night of Living Dead not only rejuvenated and recreated the zombie creature but also made its mark on horror film history by influencing many horror films known and loved today. Though an independent film, it was able to reach to wider audiences and allowed a breakthrough for horror that continued for years to come. Director George A. Romero’s reimagination of the zombie is what the modern iteration is based on, proving his contribution to the creature as a whole. The second movie also benefited from the film in that filmmakers were no longer afraid to show the far darker and grislier side of horror. An American Werewolf in London epitomizes the horror comedy in that it perfectly blends the two completely different genres, but it is definitely creepier than what a conventional movie in the genre would look like. It’s dark and, at times, even a little uncomfortable to watch with its captivating creature designs. Being one of the few horror films to have won an Academy Award, this film is credited as being one of the biggest achievements in makeup in film. Headed by Rick Baker, it was the first film to receive the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar and was the makeup artist’s first of a record seven wins. The iconic transformation of the protagonist from man to werewolf is gruesome, yet utterly hypnotizing. It’s mind-boggling to think this was made 36 years ago with practical effects, making it, possibly, one of the best visual effects achievements of all time. The transformation scene alone makes it worth the watch, but the entire film deserves its spot because of its great impact on the horror comedy genre for years to come.

Night of the Living Dead is available on Amazon Prime and An American Werewolf in London is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Though horror does have a stigma for being cheesy or rudimentary, there are still gems that prove that the genre can produce legitimate films for critics and for audiences. There is no denying that horror films are still a staple of the film industry and should be celebrated as such. Yes, there are many bad horror flicks to choose from and, ultimately, laugh at, but, this Halloween, celebrate the ones that were able to change how people thought of the genre.

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The Power of Wonder Woman

I’ll be the first to say that I thought I was Wonder Woman when I was younger. In preschool I had a red velvet ribbon that I would wave around as my Lasso of Truth. Nowadays, anyone who knows me knows how big of a Marvel fangirl I am. However, if you asked me which superhero movie has had the biggest impact on me, the honor goes to DC’s latest Wonder Woman.

I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series and the Justice League Animated Series, so I’ve been waiting for a good adaptation for a while. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman didn’t do it for me. My worst fear was that these same filmmakers would ruin my Wonder Woman as well. However, with female director Patty Jenkins, I instead found myself crying three separate times during the movie.

From the start, Diana is a girl who wants to kick ass and take names. She wants to be able to fight alongside her people and protect those she loves. As she grows, her goals never change. She changes, seeing what the outside world is like once she leaves her homeland, but always her mission has been peace and protecting humans. The opening scene she runs from the cozy plan laid out for her and heads to the training grounds to imitate the warrior women she looks up to. Watching young Diana throw punches at the air like she’s one of the great women of Themyscira made me tear up. I could see her drive and her desire to be just as strong as everyone else.

What I thought was the most telling about Diana and how inspirational she is had nothing to do with her badass fighting. The first time Diana is exposed to the bombs and bullets of our modern world, her first instinct isn’t to take up arms and fight. Instead she tries to stop Steve, Chris Pine’s character, and insist that she help every single person she passes. The crying civilians and wounded soldiers clearly affect her and inspire her to fight to protect them from any more pain. Gal Gadot really brings this empathy to life and convinces the viewer that Diana has an investment in the lives of others. It hurts her to see suffering and she’s willing to lay down her life and leave her comfortable homeland to save the world.

Diana is the hero I need, the one who doesn’t give up even when the world seems to be a terrible place. The DC Universe right now is too dark and hopeless about the state of the world. The Marvel Universe is a bit lighter but there aren’t any female characters I can really look up to and say “That’s who I want to be like” (sorry Black Widow). The first female led superhero movie in some time has given me a woman with emotional intelligence and physical prowess. Personally, I can’t wait to see how she takes the Justice League to new heights and saves the world yet again.

Thoughts on “Ghostbusters,” the Loathed Remake

A scene from Ghostbusters (2016). Left to right: Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones.
A scene from Ghostbusters (2016). Left to right: Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones.

There is a moment in the new Ghostbusters movie where Kristen Wiig’s character, Erin, mistakenly reads aloud an online comment that says, “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.” It’s a funny line that is made poignant with added context. Since the film’s announcement, this remake, its cast members, and its director (Paul Feig) have all been under fire. Why? Well, because it’s a horrible thing to remake a film, but even more terrible to remake a film with an “unconventional” cast-list. Despite the original 1984 Ghostbusters film featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, this 2016 remake instead features a female-led cast.

Continue reading “Thoughts on “Ghostbusters,” the Loathed Remake”

Summer Blockbuster Sequels and Why We Keep Seeing Them

The movie box offices are crowded with sequels and remakes this summer. If you make your way to a theater you’re likely to encounter a slew of unwieldy, colon-studded titles, including such films as Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2 both come out this weekend, and a quick count shows at least five more major film releases before August are sequels or remakes of previous movies.

It’s no mystery why the film industry keeps churning these out. Having a built-in audience gives studios a certain degree of security when deciding which films to give the green light. Four of the five top-grossing films of 2016, and nearly 40 of the 50 top-grossing films of all time are sequels. They clearly make money, but what is it about sequels that audiences continue to find so appealing?

One important component that the filmmakers bank on is familiarity. There’s less work to do, on a storytelling level, to introduce characters or premises that the audience has already accepted and enjoyed on screen before. In a way, a sequel is a movie’s chance to be a little bit like TV. The story has the opportunity to respond to audience reactions, it can develop characters and relationships over a longer arc than a standalone movie can, and can potentially build on an already established framework to create more complex plots. It’s a thin line to walk, however, staying true to the spirit of the previous film while still infusing the story with new innovations and putting something real and character-driven at stake.

The quality of sequels in Hollywood varies wildly, from established classics like The Godfather: Part II and The Empire Strikes Back to poorly executed flops like Jurassic Park III. If a movie like Magic Mike: XXL, missing key original characters and with a significant tonal shift from its predecessor, can achieve that ultimate sequel film commendation of being “better than the original,” is there any rhyme or reason to which sequels will work and which won’t? Is it possible to isolate certain necessary components a sequel must have in order to be successful? I am tentative to list any absolutes here, but I believe there are a few important variables at work when determining whether a sequel can be considered a success:

Character Growth

Taking a character on a journey which causes them to grow and change in some way is an essential component of storytelling not only within the film medium, but across the creative spectrum. It’s a thornier stipulation for sequels however, because they don’t start with a blank slate. Their characters have already been on a journey, presumably, and that same familiarity with the character which urged audiences into the seats can also alienate them if they’re presented with a character they don’t recognize, who is in some way inauthentic or inconsistent with the original.

Spectacle as a Substitution for Story

This is a consistent problem with sequels and across Hollywood in general—explosions are easier to translate for foreign audiences than witty banter or philosophical contemplation, or maybe the art direction was stronger than the new screenplay. Either way sequel films, so often part of superhero franchises or other action-packed genres today, seem to suffer disproportionately from over- emphasis on CGI and action sequences rather than the story. I think of Alice Through the Looking Glass, released in theaters last month—it was a visually beautiful movie, with exciting sequences of Alice navigating torrid ocean waters and racing against a physical manifestation of time to save the Mad Hatter, but its prettiness failed to hold up a mostly bland and nonsensical time-travel plot.

It all comes back to story, I think. If there’s a compelling story to tell, one which is driven by character growth and internal conflict rather than relying on external trappings, then a sequel at least has a chance to stand on its own merits instead of clinging to the success of the original.

When Books Become Movies: Why Are the Original Covers Being Covered Up?

“I want the original cover! I don’t want to see Sam Claflin and Emilia Clark on the cover.”

I was in the book section of Target when I heard someone two aisles away complaining about how she couldn’t find the original version of Me Before You, a book by Jojo Moyes which has recently been turned into a major motion picture.

It wasn’t until I heard her ranting about this to her friend that I realized how common this was. As soon as a book is announced it’s going to be turned into a movie, the new covers with the actors faces grace all the shelves. It becomes increasingly harder to find a book with the original cover. I’ve noticed someone who wants to get an original cover of paying extra money for shipping. Some people might not mind, but it is a waste of a trip for someone who was hoping to pick up a book with its original cover only to find the ones released for the movies.

When I was reading The Fault in Our Stars and went to search for a copy of my own around the time the movie came out, if I went into a store like Target or Walmart, I had basically no chance of finding a cover without Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort plastered on it. Bookstores are a little better, but the best chance is usually online.

I understand that the hype paves the way for a lot of marketing opportunities. Now that the characters have actors, they become a brand for the movie. But it also brings up an issue that is not completely unlike the popular books into movies debate. Fans may be upset enough to see their favorite books being made into movies because they’re afraid the movies won’t live up to the what the books have given them.

I’ve always been a fan of books being made into movies. In fact, recently I prefer reading books that I know are going to be made into movies because I like reading the story for myself first and then seeing how the director, actors, writers and others who work on the movie interpret the text differently than I did. It’s taking the books you loved and giving them new life.

But limiting the selling of the original book covers is taking away from what the books used to be. While all the authors whose books are made into movies obviously support the decision for this to be done, I feel like only selling the movie covers is trying to erase where the book came from. The movie trailers always boast that the movie you’re about to see was a book first, so taking the original copies off the shelves seems contradictory to me. When fans read books they build up their own worlds in their heads. They have their own ideas of what the characters look like and what the setting is.

So I understand why a lot of fans wouldn’t want to see the books they’ve read become movies because then they’re losing the world they created. You can separate the books and the movies. You can choose not to see the movie or you can choose to treat it as an entirely separate interpretation, but as soon as the movie marketing starts infiltrating its way into the books, there’s no separation anymore. Those characters are only what they are on screen. You can open Twilight without seeing Robert Pattinson, The Hunger Games without Jennifer Lawrence, Divergent without Theo James.

When these new covers are released, they’re giving the books new life, and that’s certainly exciting too. A lot of people see Emma Watson as Hermoine or Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I just think the old books should be kept around too, because without the original cover that first made that book chosen by curious readers who searched the shelves for a new book, there would be no movie in the first place.

Back to the Kid’s Table: Using Regression as a Stress Reliever

In colleges across America, the two first weeks of December are some of the most stressful days of the year. Final exams and projects are all crammed into this tiny time frame where a semester’s worth of knowledge is expected to be condensed into one effort. A popular way many college students deal with that stress is to regress. In the past few years, puppy petting sessions have been a hit on campuses with scientific evidence starting to back up why these are proven stress relievers. Here are four ways you can alleviate the anxiety brought on by finals by turning back the clock and not acting your age.

Use Coloring Books

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by Karen Mardahl, “228-365 Coloring book” under CC by SA 2.0

Being able to go from concentrating on everything to just your pen and your paper is relaxing. Coloring books are a creative way for destressing while also expressing yourself.  In the art therapy world, mandalas have long been considered a healthy way to cope with anxiety. I find this activity is most useful when done by yourself with some music playing in the background. A study published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology shows that when people do creative activities away from work, they are more adept at handling stress and completing work. So in a way, coloring is helping you prepare for finals.

Watch Disney Anything

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By Danielle Elder, “Disney Movies” under CC by 2.0

Or Dreamworks, if you grew up in that kind of family. Watching classic childhood favorites is an easy way to cope with the uncertainty of the world by using the familiarity of nostalgia. You’re seeing something you know well and have formed your own attachment to. It’s probably the happiest form of escapism that exists; there’s no extremely crude jokes or dark subject matter, there’s catchy songs and happy endings. Personally, my favorite is Disney’s patriarchy pommeling feminist classic Mulan. Eddie Murphy’s Mushu provides the perfect amount of comedic relief and the plot is serious enough to make you reflect, but in the end everything is ok.  With its themes of adversity and empowerment, the movie leaves you with the feeling you can conquer anything (also the finale song features the ultimate collaboration of 98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder.) To make it an even better experience, find a group of people to watch the movie with you and let the reminiscing begin.

Braid Friendship Bracelets

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by Nina Helmer, “Bracelets” under CC by NC-ND 2.0

Go back to the summer camp days by braiding some friendship bracelets. All you need is thread, which can be found online or at your local craft store. My favorite design to make is a Chevron, but there are plenty of guides online that you can follow. No matter what pattern you do, when it comes down to it, all you’re doing is knotting knots. The repetition provides a calming sense of order and clarity. Unlike the other two activities, this one makes a great fashion accessory or simple Christmas gift.

Break out the Play-Doh

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by Dennis Brekke, “Play-Doh” under CC by 2.0

Finals bring a lot emotions: panic, dread, frustration, anger, despair. For some people, being able to squeeze, pound and break something without actually doing harm can be extremely cathartic. Play-Doh is like a moldable stress ball that is usually encouraged for little kids. Along with being therapeutic in a tactile sense, playing with Play-Doh is also an outlet for creative expression. Decompressing with a can of this stuff is an inexpensive alternative to smashing whatever fragile objects are in your dorm or going the teen angst route and screaming into your pillow.

Drinking Juicy Juice boxes during any of these activities is an unnecessary but nice nostalgic touch as well. Most importantly, remember to act your real age when doing the work for studying or completing final projects and not the one you’re regressing to.

The End of an Era: “The Hunger Games”

“Why do you like The Hunger Games so much?”

It’s a question I’ve gotten multiple times, as well as the one asking why I’m emotional about it ending, and I’ve never fully known how to answer.

My generation was the the age of Potterheads, filled with those who clutched to the large volumes of Harry Potter books and watched the movies as many times as they possibly could. And of course, it was widely accepted that, I too, had read the books and enjoyed them as much as my peers.

I never had that community growing up. Whether it was Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or some other kind of fantasy literature that my peers devoured and then talked about excitedly as if the characters were their own friends; I was not a part of it.

I almost didn’t read The Hunger Games. I had friends telling me to read it in high school, but I brushed it off as something I wouldn’t like, until I saw the first movie was coming out. I had a late start into the phenomenon, not reading the books until just before the first movie came out in 2012. However, once I opened the first book, it was the start of something more than a just a story.

I had finally been admitted into one of these worlds I had only observed from the outside. I had never understood how my peers would get so excited over these series, treating them like more than just the words on the page. I had done a lot of reading in my day and often got attached to fictional characters, but never like this.

It only grew from there. With each movie, I found myself farther and farther into The Hunger Games fandom, which is a word used to coin a group of fans who all connect over a particular interest, such as a TV show, a band, or a book series.

When I went to see the second two movies, Catching Fire and Mockingjay: Part 1, I went on the first nights they opened, and even went as far as to see Mockingjay: Part 1 in theaters four times. These movies became almost a marker of time for me. It was kind of surreal to sit in a theater for another movie and think, has a year passed already?

As the last movie quickly approached, I found myself emotional for a various number of reasons. Not only is Mockingjay: Part 2 one of the most emotional parts of the series because of all the action and events that happen in the book, but it also marks the end.

I’ve made a lot of connections through this series. I’ve met friends online and in person who enjoy the books just as much as me. I’ve written stories about these characters and imagines lives for them outside of the book series. Once that last movie ends, once the last set of credits roll, it’s all going to be over.

I’m not sure what makes people get so connected to a book series. I’ve always gotten connected to fictional characters, probably because I’m a writer and I’m used to forming close bonds with fiction, but these phenomenons with books series seems more widespread than that. These writers are able to create worlds that are so real and that mean so much to their readers that it’s more than a book series to them. I’m not sure if it’s because the readers feel that they can relate to the characters or if they just love the idea of the fantastical words that are being created, but I’ve always found it interesting at how these book series can connect so many different people.

I know that my love for The Hunger Games is not going to end. Even though it’s sad that there’s no longer going to be a movie to look forward to every year (unless Lionsgate gets the hint and gets started on some prequels,) I know this isn’t going to completely end. There are still going to be people who read the books over and over again and watch the movies from start to finish and talk about the characters as if they’re best friends. I’m still going to love these movies and books for all that they are and for all that they will always be. It may technically be the end of The Hunger Games, but it’s really just the beginning.

 

Perks of Seeing a Movie the First Night

It was 7:00 on a Friday night. We were sitting among a crowd of people against the wall, anxiously waiting for them to let us in. We had been sitting there for an hour already, and were already halfway through the tub of popcorn we bought to share. It was the first night that Catching Fire was playing in theaters and I went with all of my friends to see it the first chance we got.

I used to not care when I saw a movie, but recently I’ve started wanting to see movies as soon as they come out. When I was little, my parents used to avoid seeing movies on the first night because they didn’t want it to be too crowded. That habit worked its way into my life when I got older and I barely ever saw movies even the opening weekend. Then, when I got to high school and friends started to make plans with me to see movies on the first night, it was just for movies I had been waiting to see for a long time. However, as I continued this trend and began seeing movies I didn’t even care for on the first night. I started to wonder if there was a reason I liked seeing movies the first night, and I’m sure there are a lot of people who can relate to me with these reasons.

Less Spoilers

There’s nothing worse than wanting to see a movie, only to have someone blurt out what ended up happening. This is especially hard on the internet, where it’s so easy to click a link and accidentally find out the ending to something. The earlier I see a movie, especially one that I really care about and don’t want to be spoiled, the easier it is to avoid spoilers. People tend to be more conscious about spoiling things the first week a movie comes out, but after a certain amount of time, people assume everyone has seen the movie and spoilers surface more frequently. If you really care about spoilers, the earlier you see a movie the better.

More Exciting

When you see a movie in the opening weekend there’s more hype around it. The theaters are more crowded and there are promotions everywhere for the movie. There’s just something exciting about going to a movie theater and seeing a bunch of people there for the same movie. The Great Gatsby came out the night of my Junior prom, so after prom was over I went with a big group of my friends to the movie in our prom clothes. That added to the feel of the movie and overall it was a lot of fun. It was ridiculously crowded too, so we had to sit in the second row. Some people might think it’s annoying to be in such a crowded theater, but sometimes it’s a lot of fun because people make really funny comments or get really excited for the movie.

Opportunities to Meet People

I’ve met some crazy people on the first nights of movies. My freshman year of college, I went home for Columbus Day weekend. That weekend there was a One Direction concert movie coming out, so I was able to see it with a few of my friends from home who also love One Direction. We knew it would be crowded, so we got there about two hours early and sat on a line in the corner of the theater until they let us go in. We struck up conversations with a lot of people around us and ended up playing games and sharing stories to entertain ourselves. A lot of curious movie goers ended up asking us what we were waiting in line for, so after a while we got fed up and told them we were waiting for Fifty Shades of Grey, which wasn’t due out until February. That earned us a lot of weird looks and at one point we got kind of loud and the workers threatened to kick us out. It was a fun experience and it’s definitely a memory that stands out to me when I think about going to the movies.

More Motivation

A lot of times, unless I go within the first few days, I lose all motivation to go and just end up saying I’ll buy the DVD instead. Of course, it also depends if friends want to go with me and when they’re willing to go. For some reason it’s more appealing to go within the first weekend to see a movie. Also, once it’s out of the theater you have to wait for the movie to come out on DVD, so unless you see a movie while it’s in theaters, you’re probably going to end up waiting a lot longer before you see the movie.

Giveaways

Sometimes when I’ve gone to movies or TV shows the first night, they’ve given away posters or bracelets. When a few of my friends went to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron they were given posters at the movie theater they went to. Some movie theaters even have special cups or snack boxes that advertise the movie on it. If it’s a movie that you really enjoy, sometimes it’s worth going the first night to see if they give anything away.

Writing Opportunities

This is more focused on myself as well as others who tend to write reviews about movies. When writing a movie review, it basically becomes irrelevant after a week or two. If there’s a movie I know I want to write a review about, I know I have to go within the first week before people stop caring about it.

There are plenty of reasons to go to the movies the first night, whether it’s one of these, or something totally different, sometimes you can’t beat seeing that movie the first day it comes out.

Movie Review: Inside Out

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers!

I’ve always loved animated movies. Even now as a college student, I still get just as excited about animated movies as I did when I was younger. I believe that there’s no age limit for animated movies. I’ve heard before that adults are too old to go see animated movies and that they’re only geared towards children. I don’t think this is true. While animated movies definitely have characters and themes that are meant to be enjoyed by children, these movies often contain other themes that can only be understood by adults. Tangled represents an abusive mother-daughter relationship, Frozen represents a teenager dealing with depression and Inside Out also contained its own themes meant for an older audience.

The first trailer I saw for Inside Out seemed to be geared toward older audiences, as it contained clips from older Disney Pixar movies like Cars, Ratatouille and Finding Nemo. It left me feeling extremely nostalgic and I wanted to see the movie from that moment on.

Inside Out was all I expected it would be and more. I expected it to have some sort of moral at the end, but I didn’t expect it to get as deep as it did. The movie follows an 11-year-old girl named Riley Anderson who moves with her parents from Minnesota to California. A lot of Riley’s experiences are projected through the five emotions inside her head and how they operate to make sure Riley is safe and happy.

However, when Joy and Sadness, along with Riley’s core memories which make up a large part of her personality, get sucked into long term memory and are no longer there to help her, things start to go terribly wrong. The other emotions, Fear, Anger, and Disgust, try to act like Joy but their responses only come out as rude and sarcastic. Throughout the entire movie, everyone is focused on Joy’s absence since they’re convinced that Joy is the emotion that is vital to Riley’s well-being.

Towards the end, however, when Sadness tells a sad story about a hockey game that Joy remembers as a happy memory, she realizes that some memories can contain more than one emotion. Up until this moment, all the core memories were only happy and all of Riley’s memories were broken up into the five categories that each emotion represents. Joy realizes that if Riley wasn’t sad the day of the hockey game, then she never would have been able to turn that into a happy memory. She was sad about losing the game, which allowed her parents to go and comfort her. A memory that Joy remembers as a happy one, only became that way because it started out sad.

At the end, the emotions realize that there can be happiness if they all mix together. During the entire movie, they tried to push away Sadness, but at the end she was the one who saved Riley from becoming completely devoid of emotion and running away from home. Sometimes being sad is the only way to get over something.

Children’s movies usually show sadness as something that is negative and only happens when something bad happens. However, Inside Out shows that being sad is okay and perfectly healthy. I thought this was a really good moral to impart on viewers both young and old alike. This movie was funny, sad, dramatic and relatable all wrapped up into one. It was a unique idea unlike anything I’ve ever seen done before and I really enjoyed it. Go see Inside Out, it’s a good example that you’re never too old for an animated movie.

Movie Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

*Warning: Spoilers!

The first time I had heard of this movie was when I got an email inviting me to a screening. I had never seen a preview for it, but a free movie is a free movie, so I signed up for passes. I was expecting it to be something like The Fault in Our Stars and so did my not-so-excited boyfriend who thought I was dragging him to a chick flick. The screening itself was much smaller than the others I’d been to, so even though he was late and we didn’t get to the theater until after 6:30 p.m., there were plenty of good seats left. After a few warnings about not using our cell phones, the couple in front of us pulled out a couple of burritos and we settled in to watch the movie.

Like so many teen movies, the story opens like with an awkward high school student, Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) who doesn’t really fit in well. He floats from clique to clique and has only one friend, Earl (RJ Cyler), who he calls his “coworker.” The way they describe high school cliques is pretty cliche, but maybe I think that about most teen movies. What was interesting and different about this one, was that Greg was an outcast because he was afraid to become close to people, not because the kids in his high school picked on him. When an acquaintance of his, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), is diagnosed with cancer, he is forced by his mother to hang out with her. I went in thinking there would be some grand romance, like most YA story lines have, but I was surprised that Greg and Rachel don’t fall in love. After the initial surprise, I think it made the ending of the movie even stronger.

I had few complaints about this movie, one of them being the narration. Sometimes narration works really well in movies, but it was unnecessary here. The movie started off with Greg writing his college essay, so the narration was probably to remind you that he was telling the “audience” the story of how his senior year of high school destroyed his life, but I didn’t need the reminders that it wasn’t a typical cancer movie and they weren’t going to fall in love. Nor did I need him to keep telling us that Rachel didn’t die. Another thing I thought was strange was the lack of knowledge of Rachel’s life before Greg. There was that one awkward scene with her friends, but other than that, Rachel didn’t seem to have friends anymore. I know the movie was about the relationship between her and Greg, but I always think that there needs to be some context of how characters’ lives used to be.

Despite those few things, I think the movie was beautifully done. Maybe I’m just more sentimental than most when it comes to books and movie, but I really cared about Rachel and Greg. I almost cried at the end of the movie when Greg realized he was losing everything. His last two scenes with Rachel were the most heartbreaking, even though I suspected how it would end. The movie is about so much more than Rachel’s cancer, and that’s what I loved most about it. There was a lot going on, but I think the screenwriter (and author of the book), Jesse Andrews, and the director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, did an amazing job weaving all the aspects of the story together. That’s what sets it apart from other movies like it.