Inside Out 2, Remembering Gene Wilder and Brats

This month’s Mike Peros movie and TV reviews are Inside Out 2, Remembering Gene Wilder and Brats.

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – This month’s Mike Peros movie and TV reviews are Inside Out 2, Remembering Gene Wilder and Brats.

Inside Out 2, from the folks at Pixar Animation, is a beautifully done sequel to the first Inside Out (2015). Directed (and co-written) by Pete Docter, Inside Out 2 continues the story of now thirteen-year-old Riley and her emotions (Amy Schumer’s Joy, Lewis Black’s Anger, Phylis Smith’s Sadness) as they approach Riley’s entry into high school. Riley is invited to a hockey camp along with her best friends Bree and Grace, and the pressures of the weekend competition, along with the advent of puberty lead other emotions to join Riley’s support system, led by Anxiety, Envy and Embarrassment. Though Joy has been Riley’s main cheerleader thus far, encouraging Riley’s sense of self and banishing negative thoughts to a far-away place, she and the others are soon banished by the well-meaning Anxiety. The original emotions battle and connive to find their way through the outer reaches of Riley’s psyche, before the ever-increasing Anxiety undoes all of Joy’s efforts. 

What’s interesting here is how the movie addresses some serious issues that apply not only to adolescents, but adults: the fear of change, the fear of not being good enough, the desire for approval, the desire to please, and what happens when the desire to please yourself can hurt others. It’s not just puberty the film is addressing but the pitfalls of adulthood. Riley wants to the approval of her “teen hockey idol,” even if it means possibly losing the friendship of Bree and Grace. And there are some powerful moments when Joy realizes even she is not enough for Riley, and that other emotions need to have their place, while allowing Riley to be her own person. Lest anyone be concerned, Inside Out 2 is not heavy-handed at all—it is playful, fast-paced, imaginatively designed and animated, and features strong voice performances and many funny and moving moments. It’ll resonate whether you’re thirteen or thirty—or however ageless you may be.

A few documentaries of note have also come out, some on various streamers, some in theaters. Each film was created by individuals who adore and respect their subjects. Remembering Gene Wilder, from director Ron Frank, looks at Wilder’s career from his early appearance in Bonnie and Clyde to his breakthroughs with The Producers and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and his later work with Richard Pryor. Along with narration by Wilder (from an audio book for his memoir), number of talented colleagues, including Mel Brooks, Alan Alda, and Carol Kane, provide insights to Wilder’s status both as a comic genius and as a friend. Wilder’s marriages are also explored in some depth, notably with Gilda Radner, and his last marriage, with Karen Boyer. Karen Wilder also opens up about Wilder’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, supplemented by some home movies. It’s a well-made, well-constructed film that leaves you appreciating Wilder’s importance and talent, but still leaves you wanting more.

Brats from Andrew McCarthy is an entertaining look at a talented group of young actors who came on the scene in the mid-1980s and were stigmatized with the term Brat Pack.  McCarthy, as one of the members of this so-called group, wanted to seek out his fellow Brat Pack-ers to see the effect on them and to come to terms with it all. To that end, there are some good interviews with Aly Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe and Jon Cryer (who maintains he’s not a member). All talk about the fame, the pressures, the friendships, with much discussion about John Hughes (director of The Breakfast Club, among other key features). Some of it is revealing, all of it is entertaining, even though some key people (Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall) did not participate.