Movie reviews: Inside Out, You’re Ugly Too, The Legend of Barney Thompson

Inside Out *****

Movie reviews: Inside Out, You’re Ugly Too, The Legend of Barney Thompson

The trauma of leaving Minnesota for a new home in San Francisco results in emotional upheaval for 11-year-old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) in Inside Out (G), the latest offering from the Pixar studio.

But while Riley provides the story’s focus, it’s the emotions themselves that take centre-stage, as Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen’s movie takes us inside Riley’s head and introduces us to Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), all of whom take turns manning the control centre in Riley’s mind, manipulating her reactions and managing her memories.

It’s a wonderful visual extravaganza, the filmmakers navigating the complex workings of the human mind with ease as Sadness and Joy — in a desperate bid to save Riley from the hopelessness that threatens to overwhelm her —– embark on an epic adventure through Riley’s imagination and subconscious.

It’s riotously funny in places — Poehler and Smith have a terrific chemistry in their yin-yang relationship — and the animation is as endlessly inventive as always, particularly in the scenes set in the deepest recesses of Riley’s consciousness.

It’s also the most poignant and thought-provoking Pixar movie since Toy Story 3, and one that will likely appeal as much to adults as children, given that the immediate trauma of Riley’s move away from home masks a far more important transition as Riley gradually comes to realise that she is leaving not just Minnesota but her entire childhood behind. In a nutshell? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to see it all over again.

You’re Ugly Too (15A) follows a similar narrative arc to Inside Out, as recently released convict Will (Aidan Gillen) takes his niece Stacey (Lauren Kinsella) to live in a caravan park in the Irish midlands following the death of Stacey’s mother.

The pair are virtually strangers, yet bound by notional blood ties, and the story explores their relationship as their mutual distrust slowly transforms into acceptance and understanding.

Writer-director Mark Noonan’s film is by no means a straightforward affair, however, and the pair’s quirks and foibles, and the way the movie is shot through with an ominous tone of foreboding, ensures the audience can take nothing for granted.

The down-at-heel setting of a caravan park and the naturalistic lighting and sound give the story a grittily realistic feel, and both Gillen and Kinsella contribute handsomely to the overall mood with their performances, their emotional hesitancy and clumsy, off-key banter highlighting the fragility of their relationship.

Kinsella, indeed, steals the show with a wonderfully mature turn as the mouthy, prickly Lauren, a young girl on the cusp of her teenage years struggling to cope with the loss of her mother.

The story does begin to lose its intensity a little when the pair’s neighbour, the Belgian teacher Emilie (Erika Sainte) enters the picture, offering a romantic interest for Will and a potential mother-figure for Stacey, but nevertheless You’re Ugly Too suggests Mark Noonan is a talent to watch.

Also making his debut as director is Robert Carlyle, who stars as the eponymous hero in The Legend of Barney Thompson (15A).

A mild-mannered and boring Glasgow barber, a scissors-wielding Barney accidentally kills his boss Charlie (Brian Pettifer) in an argument after Barney is sacked.

Terrified that his sacking will be considered a motive for murder, Barney decides to dispose of the body, and hope that Charlie’s disappearance will be linked to the ongoing serial killings plaguing Glasgow.

Adapted from Douglas Lindsay’s novel The Long Midnight of Barney Thompson, this comedy is chock-a-block with twists and turns, and boasts a superb cast — Ray Winstone plays a fish-out-of-water Cockney copper convinced of Barney’s guilt, Emma Thompson has a whale of a time playing Barney’s hard-drinking harridan of a mother, while Tom Courtenay’s turn as the least effective Chief Superintendent of all time is a joy.

Throw in Carlyle’s own terrific performance as the harried Barney, and The Legend of Barney Thompson should be an instant comic classic, but somehow the individual elements, all excellent in their own right, fail to gel.

It’s difficult to work out why, because Carlyle keeps things moving along at a fast clip and the comic moments are crisply timed.

The Legend of Barney Thompson is a frequently funny but ultimately dissatisfying black comedy.

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