Movie Review

Film Review: LIFE INSIDE OUT (2013): Light Family Dynamics, Nothing Heavy

Maggie Baird Finneas O Connell Life Inside Out

Life Inside Out (2013) Film Review, a movie directed by Jill D’Agnenica, and starring Maggie Baird, Finneas O’Connell, Lori Nasso, David Cowgill, Roscoe Brandon, Orson Ossman, Patrick O’Connell, Joe Hart, Goh Nakamura, Emma Bell, and Emily Jordan.

I certainly see the appeal of Life Inside Out by first time director Jill D’Agnencia, and I understand why it did well on the Festival circuit. This is a loving story about how a mom rediscovers her affection for writing and playing music, which also, by happy accident helps her to build a connection with her youngest son, Shane.

The cast’s main players: Maggie Baird, Finneas O’Connell, and Lori Nasso are at times convincing, but mostly its actors moving around saying their lines. That said, you can’t help but feel a mom’s joy after she helps her son find his way. But here’s the problem: Shane’s teenage angst is just not particularly harsh or dark enough for anyone other than mommy to give a rat’s… (fill in the blank).

Shane’s not standing at the edge of a 14 story building. He’s not in that deep dark place where the only saviour is what music can offer.

His problems are universal, and thus relatable, but they’re pretty vanilla in flavour. Where’s the cyber bulling? When are the cops going to show-up to investigate the nude selfies being shared at school? Who brought the drugs, where did the money come from? All of that is still pretty mild. There’s a lot of deep thick muck for a teenager to walk through in the 21st century, but none of that was explored.

Because of the lack of any real despair in Life Inside Out, all mom has done is find her son a hobby. Or, maybe it’s best to call it an outlet. However, that in itself does make the film touching and I gotta say, a tad emotional. Nothing bordering on moist, misty eyes — more of a ‘ah that’s nice’ kind of emotion.

The family dynamics are also rather bland. Nothing at home requires any real resolution either. Dad works, gets along with his kids and wife – but money’s a little tight, so while mom looks for a job she sells her home-made baked goods. You see, mom used to run a bakery shop with her sister and father, but that ran its course and they closed up shop. Now mom’s baby sister has moved on and makes her money holding scrap book parties. She also takes care of their father. And there’s really nothing to resolve there either. Yeah there’s a little sisterly nudge here and there – but nobody’s throwing a full on punch. In fact the whole story is void of any hard fought battles or struggles.

Life Inside Out culminates in an open mic night, which couldn’t get any cozier. The whole damn family shows up, mom does what any good mom would and should do – she moves over and gives the spot light to her son (if only mom said, ‘screw you Shane, it’s my night’. But that’s not this movie). So in the end, Shane gets the girl and everyone walks away with happy grins on their faces. Even mom’s younger sister scores at the end of the night.

For those of you who are fine with the lighter side of teenage angst and family dynamics; you’ll enjoy the film. For those who are looking for something heavier, with a bit more grit, you may want to take a pass.

Rating: 5/10

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About the author

Thomas Jenkins

For Thomas, a perfect day is getting up at the crack of dawn, going for a long run and then spending the rest of the day watching films or reading about film.

Thomas holds an M.A in Independent Film from Staffordshire University.

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