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Archives for : anxiety

Movie Review: “Inside Out 2” is a Joyful Watch

The sheer genius of turning our emotions into loveable characters was enough to make you fall in love with the magic of the first “Inside Out”. Like many, I was hesitant to the idea of a sequel. But after watching “Inside Out 2”, and meeting Anxiety, it all makes sense.

“Inside Out 2” follows Riley entering into her teen years, making room for new emotions right before she goes into High School. She and her two best friends, Bree and Grace, have been selected to go to a 3-day hockey camp. Everything seems to be going smoothly in Riley’s life until Bree and Grace inform her, they won’t be going to High School together due to different school zones. This puts Riley in a panic of who she will be friends with next year. Que, Anxiety and her close friends; Envy, Embarrassment, and Ennui. They all step in to try to navigate the unexpected situation, but Joy and her core group of emotions clash with them on to best help Riley.

Obviously, the first “Inside Out” is better than the sequel. But that’s because the element of surprise and awe has been revealed. Which is why the first film is one of the best Pixar films ever made. There was so much attention to detail and every second in that movie was intentional. It was clearly filmmakers Pete Doctor and Ronnie Del Carmen’s baby and all their hard work paid off. They have passed the torch to director Kelsey Mann this time around and he respects the craft he’s been given to work with, building on this world and adding value instead of a cheap remake.

Introducing audiences to Anxiety at a time in our lives where we all felt this emotion, but probably didn’t know how to define it, is beneficial to younger and older viewers. With hope, it encourages children to understand their feelings and why they are feeling it. Anxiety is voiced by Maya Hawke, who brings out the vibrant energy and panic you’d imagine from the emotion. More of the attention to detail lies in her and not so much from her buddies. Though all the newcomers do a fine job, they won’t be as memorable as Anxiety or Joy and her core friends. Speaking of Joy, Amy Poehler returns as they happy-go-lucky emotion who is still trying to see everything in a positive light. Her voice is the backbone to this franchise and truly is a joy to hear. Phyllis Smith as Sadness is still role/emotion she brilliantly gives life to.

I do think the setting of a 3-day hockey camp was a little limiting to the story. I would have rather seen Riley navigate her emotions starting High School with no friends versus trying to make new ones at camp with her best friends present. There is so much anxiety when start freshman year and there’s a lot the filmmakers could have done with that potential story, but what they did give us, isn’t bad by any means.

“Inside Out 2” still sparkles from its lovable characters and relatable storylines told through emotions we all have. Providing a family-friendly avenue to discuss our feelings and mental health with loved ones.

Rating: A-

“Inside Out 2” opens in theater June 14, 2023.

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INSIDE OUT 2 Interview w/ Tony Hale

“Inside Out 2” brings Joy and her whole group back to help Riley as she enters her teen years and welcome new emotions, including, anxiety! I spoke with the wonderful 2 x Emmy winner Tony Hale, who voices Fear in the film. Tony discussed the movie and some of his emotions he felt as a teen.

“Inside Out 2” opens in theaters June 14, 2024

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Movie Review: “Dear Evan Hansen” Plays a Powerful Song

“Dear Evan Hansen” is the Tony Award winning Broadway musical that’s been adored by millions. But for some reason, the film adaption doesn’t seem to be translating to audiences.

Sadly, I have yet to see this musical on Broadway, but look forward to one day hearing the soundtrack performed live. I am clearly in the minority of my colleagues, but I enjoyed this movie. I went in completely blind. I didn’t know the storyline or a single song beforehand; maybe that’s why it was easy for me to fall for this film.

For those who also might not know anything about this premise, “Dear Evan Hansen” follows Evan (Ben Platt) – a socially awkward High School senior with an absentee father, a loving mom (Julianne Moore) who is constantly working, and not a single friend to sign the cast on his broken arm. In an effort to help with his anxiety, Evan’s therapist suggests he write a letter to himself, encouraging himself throughout the day.

On a random day at school, the brooding at times hostile student, Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) decides to sign Evan’s cast. The sweet moment is short lived because he finds one of Evan’s letters in where it mentions Connor’s sister, Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) – Evan’s crush. He angrily pushes Evan, steals the letter, and keeps it in his coat. The next day, Evan is called to the principal’s office where Connor’s parents (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) are waiting for him. Connor has committed suicide. The only note he had on him was Evan’s letter, which they believe Connor wrote for him. The letter paired with his signature on Evan’s cast convinces his parents that this was his one true friend. In that moment, Evan can’t help but go along with the lie. He has good intentions, but the events that follow can be tough to watch.

I’ll admit, when this film gets going and the talented cast is pouring their heart into a heavy conversation about depression, suicide, or internal struggles, it can take you out of the moment when one someone suddenly burst into song. Most of the time you forget this film is a musical until the singing starts again. However, once the music begins, and you’re actually listening to the lyrics, you’re pulled back in by the powerful message the songs have to tell. And I guess there’s backlash for Platt playing the role of a high schooler at age 27, but I’m not sure why? Adults have played High School teens for years in film and television. Platt looks the age and embodies the high anxiety, awkward character, not to mention, his voice is incredible. It’s a true gift for fans of the Broadway show to see Platt reprise this role.

The majority of the high-profile cast do a wonderful job. But praise should be given to Kaitlyn Dever who plays the role of Zoe so effortlessly. She excels in her delivery and emotion as a sister who struggles to grieve the brother that was so cruel to her.

The runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes is a bit long, but I’m not sure what to cut out. Every scene felt vital to the story. It’s understanding not everyone will be able to bare the length of this somber tale, but the film does end on an uplifting note.

“Dear Evan Hansen” may not be a smooth track, but it provides a compelling message that is still relevant to teens today: be kind and make efforts to those kids in school who are closed off and have difficulty building relationships. I remember those students. At times I even felt like those students.

Though it won’t appeal to everyone, “Dear Evan Hansen” is an emotional and heartwarming musical.

Rating: B-