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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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THE WATCHERS Interview w/ Ishana Night Shyamalan

“The Watchers” follows a young artist who gets stranded in an extensive, immaculate forest in western Ireland, where, after finding shelter, she becomes trapped alongside three strangers, stalked by mysterious creatures each night. I spoke with filmmaker, Ishana Night Shyamalan (daughter of horror icon, M. Night Shyamalan) about her directorial debut.

“The Watchers” opens in theaters June 7, 2024.

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Movie Review: “The Strangers: Chapter 1”

Froy Gutierrez as “Ryan” and Madelaine Petsch as “Maya” in THE STRANGERS Trilogy, a Lionsgate release. Photo Credit: John Armour for Lionsgate

You might remember the 2008 film, “The Strangers” based on a
horrifying true story of a home invasion. “The Strangers: Chapter 1” is based on the series but is the first installment of a new trilogy directed by Renny Harlin.

After a young couple’s car breaks down in an eerie small town, they are forced to spend the night in a remote cabin. What was supposed to be a relaxing evening turns into a nightmare, as they are terrorized by three masked strangers who attack them with no mercy and seemingly no motive. This first chapter is a promising start to the new saga, as Harlin creates a disturbing, realistic setting with subtle jump scares that make you uneasy from the moment they enter the secluded home.

The film does have a bumpy start. The acting and dialogue feel very much like a CW drama, but once the couple arrive at the cabin, the story really finds its footing and succeeds in making you never want to take a vacation in the middle of nowhere. However, you will be eager to see what’s to come after this first movie, as it does end with a “to-be-continued”. Another draw to the film is the two leads, Riverdale’s Madelaine Petsch and local Dallas native, Froy Gutierrez do a solid job as a long-time couple with natural chemistry. It’s the care you have for them that makes you want to see this tragedy through. And I’m sure you’re wondering how this story compares to the 2008 movie. No surprise, there’s a lot of similarities, don’t expect anything original, outside of a different romantic dynamic and possibly a different outcome.

“The Strangers: Chapter 1” may not leave a lasting impression, but it does provide all the ingredients for a decent scary movie. There’s mounting tension, creative shots, and enough haunting images that make for a thrilling good time. And with all 3 films planned to take place over only a few days, you can’t help but want to see what’s coming next.

“The Strangers: Chapter 1” opens in theaters May 17, 2024.

Rating: C

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Movie Review: “The Fall Guy”

Ryan Gosling takes on his most thrilling role yet in Universal Pictures newest comedy, The Fall Guy. It’s best not to take this film too seriously, it’s based on the 1981 television series and pays tribute to stunt work, taking full advantage of any opportunity for high-flying tricks. To say this film is action-packed would be an understatement.

Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a retired stuntman, who quit the industry after a severe injury. He is pulled back into the job with the hopes of rekindling a romance with his ex-girlfriend, Jody, who is now the director of a blockbuster film. The only problem is the star of the movie is missing and Colt must find him before Jody’s film is canned.

At first, “The Fall Guy” throws a lot at you at once. It takes a minute to find the groove of the film, but once the film finds its footing, audiences are in for a non-stop, electrifying, good time filled with humor thanks to the witty dialogue by writers, Drew Pearce and Glen A. Larson. Through all the explosions and fight sequences, there’s a gripping story about the typically unrecognized hard work of stuntmen and women. We’re shown how they are repeatedly put into life-threatening situations for a quick “magical” shot that’s pivotal to a movie. But director David Leitch takes this premise one step further by adding a romantic comedy element that only elevates the story.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt dazzle on-screen. The two of them surprisingly convey enough heart to charm audiences even while they make you burst out laughing from their several comedic scenes. “The Fall Guy” is an exciting moviegoing experience, providing jaw-dropping action, loveable leads, killer soundtrack, and ridiculous chaotic fun. Making it the perfect popcorn flick.

Rating: A

“The Fall Guy” opens in theaters May 3, 2024.

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THE IDEA OF YOU Interview w/ Director Michael Showalter

“Solène, a 40-year-old single mom, begins an unexpected romance with 24-year-old Hayes Campbell, the lead singer of August Moon, the hottest boy band on the planet.”

I got a chance to speak with incredibly talented filmmaker, Michael Showalter about his new romantic comedy that digs deep and pulls at your heartstrings.

I highly recommend everyone watch “The Idea of You” when it streams on Prime Video on May 2, 2024.

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Movie Review: “Civil War”

“Civil War” is about a journey across a dystopian future America, following a team of military-embedded journalists as they race against time to reach DC before rebel factions descend upon the White House. This week I review the enthralling action/drama and share my thoughts on how much of an impact it will have on audiences.

“Civil War” opens in theaters April 12, 2024.

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“CAROL DODA TOPLESS AT THE CONDOR” OPENS IN DALLAS ON APRIL 19, 2024

Documentary Explores Legendary Dancer Who Ignited Flames of the 1960s

Sexual Revolution; Dallas’s Top Burlesque Dancers With Minxe Mimieux As The Lead Dancer Will Perform Live Revue at Select Opening Weekend Shows

Picturehouse’s CAROL DODA TOPLESS AT THE CONDOR, exploring the history and impact of the legendary topless dancer who ignited the 1960s sexual revolution, will open in Dallas exclusively at the Angelika Film Center (5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230) on Friday, April 19. 

Opening weekend audiences will experience a special live pre-show revue, “Doda-esque Burlesque,” featuring a bevy of Dallas’s own top burlesque dancers with Minxe Mimieux as the lead dancer in a spectacular tribute to Carol Doda’s with a special post screening Q&A.

As the lights go down…experience a special live pre-show performance of “Doda-esque Burlesque!” A spectacular tribute to Carol Doda featuring a bevy of enchanting local burlesque performers. Sit back and enjoy as the divas of today pay tribute to the ultimate diva of yesterday. Come early! Taking place prior to the film, this live performance will have NO NUDITY, and promises to be an exciting and teasing good time!

Click here to get your tickets!

https://www.angelikafilmcenter.com/dallas/movies/details/carol-doda-topless-at-the-condor–live-pre-show-performance-of-doda-esque-burlesque

Directed by: Marlo Mckenzie, Jonathan Parker

Written by: Marlo McKenzie, Jonathan Parker

Cast: Carol Doda, Dina Moore, Charles North

Rated: R for nudity/graphic nudity throughout, some sexual material, language and drug content

Synopsis Against the backdrop of the 1964 Republican Convention, a San Francisco cocktail waitress became one of the city’s most popular entertainers after making her debut as America’s first topless dancer. The new documentary feature Carol Doda Topless at the Condor tells the story of the fresh-faced girl next door who defied convention and the law by gyrating atop a white baby grand piano and turning a North Beach nightclub into the city’s second-most-popular tourist attraction after the Golden Gate Bridge. Meanwhile, Doda’s very public use of silicone to enhance her breasts launched a new industry. Directors Marlo McKenzie and Jonathan Parker share an unprecedented look at Doda’s life and legacy, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the vibrant, sometimes outrageous and always entertaining world of North Beach.

Movie Review: “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”

When there’s something strange in the neighborhood, who you gonna call? It’s the newest sequel to an 80’s classic, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”. This week I review the adventure comedy and share my thoughts on how it compares to the most recent sequel.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” opens in theaters March 22, 2024.

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IRISH WISH Interview w/ Lindsay Lohan, Ayesha Curry, & Ed Speleers

“When the love of Maddie’s life gets engaged to her best friend, she puts her feelings aside to be a bridesmaid at their wedding in Ireland.” Netflix continues to revive the romcom genre! “Irish Wish” is the feel-good love story we all need this spring.

I had the honor of speaking with Lindsay Lohan, Ayesha Curry, and Ed Speleers about the film, when they started putting themselves first, wedding compromises, what makes them feel confident, and more!

Check out the full interview and be sure watch “Irish Wish” when it streams on Netflix March 15!

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