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Trainwreck (2015)
Trainwreck (2015)
2015 | Comedy
Admittedly, I did not have a lot of exposure to Amy Schumer going into this film. I was also a little tepid about seeing the film when I found that this is the first film she has ever written, also the first for her to play the leading role. And to keep the firsts going, this is also the first film that Judd Apatow has directed, but not written. There is a lot that could go wrong here. But it didn’t. At the recommendation of several friends, I went into this film optimistic. Boy were they right.

 

Trainwreck is the story of Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer). A career non-monogamist who kind-of/sort-of has a steady boyfriend, but she also happens to have her fun on the side. Having taken life lessons from her philandering father (Colin Quinn), Amy is all about having fun. She really is what the title of the movie suggests. But what most people don’t understand is that her commitment phobia really stems from her thinking she could never have the type of life and relationship that others, like her sister, have. She is rude, crude and never going to fall in love. Until she meets Aaron Connors (Bill Hader). Amy works for S’Nuff, a men’s magazine that is all about the outrageous stories, such as “How to Masturbate in the Workplace”. Another staffer pitches a piece about Aaron, a sports doctor who has recently developed a new surgery technique that would reduce downtime from knee surgery by half. Amy, being a non-sports fan and having just split with her kind-of/sort-of boyfriend, gets assigned the piece and ends up falling into bed with him and the sparks begin to fly. What could go wrong when a pot-smoking commitment-phobe meets her match and begins to fall in love?

 

Chock full of cameos, this movie is magic from start to finish. Bringing Schumer’s special brand of comedy to the big screen is no easy task, but it works. Schumer and Hader have such a great chemistry, it makes their relationship seem plausible – the responsible doctor and the slacker magazine writer. From start to finish, the film has great timing in both the comedic moments, and the sadder moments. The supporting cast was tremendous as joining Firth are Tilda Swinton as Amy Schumer’s eccentric boss, Brie Larson as her sister, Mike Birbiglia as her brother-in-law, not to mention Ezra Miller, Lebron James, and various other athletes and stars, including 6 current and past Saturday Night Live cast members. Quick note: I am not a Lebron James fan at all. I have personal opinions about the moves he has made, more the way he has made them, but he was superb in this film. He really can act well enough for the part at hand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see him in more roles in the future. You know, after his NBA career ends.

 

All-in-all, if you are a fan of Amy Schumer. Go see this movie. If you are looking for a great date-night movie. Go see this movie. If you are looking to laugh and some good, and at times inappropriate, humor… go see this movie. I can’t stress it enough. You will not regret it.
  
Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
2016 | Comedy, Musical
If you go into this movie expecting anything other than crude comedy, you should not go see this movie. But this is not a bad thing. If you are at all familiar with, and like, the music of The Lonely Island, you will absolutely enjoy Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Which is pretty much The Lonely Island’s take on a Scary Movie, only focused solely on Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never.

 

Popstar is filmed in documentary style following Conner (Andy Samberg) , aka Conner4Real, as he is getting to release his second solo album after splitting from an influential hip-hop group, Style Boyz. Conner is the complete exaggeration of the real life Bieber, and the film follows his antics as he prepares for the big day and beyond.

 

In addition to Jorma Taccone and Akiva Shafer, the rest of The Lonely Island, there is a slew of familiar faces and cameos, including, but not limited to, Imogen Poots; Bill Hader; Maya Rudolph; Sarah Silverman; Tim Meadows; Pink; Usher; Nas; Joan Cusack; Adam Levine; and Will Arnett. There are so many more, also, but I would be remiss to give them away.

 

Ultimately it comes down to this: as I said before, if you are fan of The Lonely Island, you will enjoy this film. I honestly kind of walked out of the theater thinking that the film basically serves as a vehicle for a new Lonely Island album as there all the songs performed in the movie are original and new. But, again, that’s not a bad thing. It, at times, goes a little overboard, but it quickly reels you back in the next moment. I suppose you could say there is humor for all tastes. Well… most tastes anyway.

 

It’s not going to win any awards. Let’s just get that on the table, but it is a film that will have you laughing most of the way through. There was definitely big audience reaction during my screening of the film. I will most definitely be picking up the soundtrack and the film upon home release.
  
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
2016 | Animation, Family
5
6.4 (9 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The new kids’ movie Angry Birds is a joint venture between Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation.

I did not hold high hopes for this movie when I went to screen it, and really only went because I knew my 7 year old son would want to see it.

It has a wide range of actors and actresses voicing the characters: Jason Sudeikis as Red, Josh Gad as Chuck, Danny McBride as Bomb, Maya Rudolph as Matilda, Bill Hader as Leonard, Peter Dinklage as Mighty Eagle, Sean Penn as Terence, and Blake Shelton as Earl Pig.

If you have ever played the game by the same name, you will recognize the characters, as well as the soundtrack music.

It was a decent (kids) story, and the movie is certainly colorful and fast paced. In my opinion, the 3-D aspect helped.

We follow the main character, Red, as he tried to fit into a happy, steady society, that frowns upon and even penalizes outburst of bad temper, whether they are warranted or not.

He blows up at a customer, and has to go to court, where he is sentenced to anger management classes. The instructor, Matilda, has a hard time getting through to him and gets frustrated with his inability to control his anger responses.

In the middle of Red’s classes, the Pigs show up, bearing “gifts” and acting as if they are the Birds best friends. Red is suspicious and tries to both investigate to find out more, as well as warn the other birds that the pigs are after more than being “best friends”, but is shut down time after time as his warnings fall on deaf ears.

In the end, Red is right, and must organize a rescue. Ironically, he must encourage the other Birds to harness their anger in order to use it to help rescue their eggs.

I thought the movie was cute, and fun for a family afternoon out. I probably would not take very very young kids to it, more in the age group of 6 or 7 and up, but for my son it was just fine, and it was fun for him because he recognized the characters both from the game as well as the cartoon shorts that are on the internet.

For a family movie, I would give Angry Birds 2.75 out of 5 stars.
  
Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out (2015)
2015 | Animation, Comedy, Drama
The Most Emotionally Resonant Pixar Film
When listing the PIXAR films that have the most emotional resonance, the films I hear mentioned most often are TOY STORY 3, WALL-E and the first 20 minutes of UP. While all of those are most definitely emotionally resonant, I would argue that INSIDE OUT is the most emotionally resonant of all the Pixar films.

And not just because the main characters in the film are emotions.

Telling the tale of 11 year old Riley, who's life is upended when her family moves from Minnesota to San Fransico, INSIDE OUT follows this journey through the eyes of Riley's 5 chief emotions - Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear.

As is customary in Pixar films, the voice cast in this film is outstanding. Amy Poehler (well known as the ever-optimistic Leslie Knope in the marvelous TV Series PARKS & RECREATION) is perfectly cast as Joy. Her never ending well of optimism is perfectly placed - and never gets tiresome. As does the voice work of Lewis Black (Anger), Bill Hader (Fear) and Mindy Kahling (Disgust). They are all marvelous. But the revelation of this film for me is the voicework of Phyllis Smith (THE OFFICE) as Sadness. She brings just the right amount of weight and...well...sadness...to her character without bogging down (and bringing down) the proceedings. These 5 work together well (especially Poehler and Smith).

Special notice needs to be made of the voice work of the unique talent that is Richard Kind as the character BingBong. I will not ruin any of the surprise of this character, but I will say I could not think of any other voice for this character - he is that perfect for it.

Credit, of course, for all of this needs to be given to Director Pete Docter (currently the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar). He has shown he has the ability to really tug at the heartstrings with his previous Pixar effort, UP, and he expands on this promise in this film bringing an emotionally rich film that has many, many moments of humor spliced within. He'll be at the helm of the upcoming SOUL and I can't wait to see it.

I'm glad I revisited INSIDE OUT, it is a stronger, better film than I remembered. You'll like it - and your kids will, too!

Letter Grade: A-

8 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank (ofMarquis)
  
Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out (2015)
2015 | Animation, Comedy, Drama
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside that noggin of yours when your feeling angry, scared, sad or happy even? The producers and directors of Up and Toy Story have delved inside these emotions with their new film Inside Out. It is the latest and greatest film from Disney’s Pixar to open this summer. The film brought in some of the best comedic actors together and strategically placed them in the mind of an eleven year old girl.

 Riley is an eleven year old girl from Minnesota. Her parents have made the difficult decision to uproot her and move to San Francisco for her fathers new job. Riley’s life is flipped upside down and inside out. She is guided only by her emotions as most of us are. Her thoughts are being manned by a control room of sorts. Joy (Amy Poehler) keeps everything at bay. As it is her soul purpose to keep Riley happy and all the other emotions away from the controls as much as possible. Although other emotions like Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) tend to creep in from time to time.

Her memories are color-coded specific to each emotion. Core memories are glowing. Sadness has become quite enamored with these glowing core memories and can’t help herself from touching the orbs turning all of the happy core memories into sad memories. As her mind short circuits it paves the path for fear, disgust and anger to take over. Joy must stop this from happening and retrieve core memories that are almost lost. Guiding them along the way is Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend who was thought to be forgotten.

 Inside Out will literally give you a seat on the train of thought and will wind through all the twists and turns of the mind. With such an ambitious idea Pixar has proved once again that they can make a film that can relate to both young and old. It will definitely tug at the heartstrings. It did for me as I was about Riley’s age when I was uprooted to Costa Rica so I hold this film close to my heart. Lots of surprises, laughs and maybe even a few sniffles await you with this film and really shouldn’t be missed. A few hidden surprises also await the true Disney fan. Skip the 3D version not worth the extra couple dollars.
  
Paul (2011)
Paul (2011)
2011 | Comedy, International, Sci-Fi
9
7.7 (19 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Can you think of a better vacation than going to the San Diego Comic-Con, then hopping into an RV with your best friend to travel around America checking out various UFO hot spots? If you answered “Heck No!” then you would get along just fine with Klingon-speaking best friends from the UK, Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost).

That’s how the movie Paul begins, at one of the greatest conventions, San Diego Comic Con. Then Graeme and Clive are off on their cross country adventure during which they meet all sorts of interesting people including Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien whose ship crash landed on Earth 60 years ago and, until his recent escape, had been a “guest” at a secret military base. After some fainting, wetting pants and fears about probing have been addressed, Graeme and Clive agree to help Paul get to where he can meet his mothership and go home.

At this point the movie goes from funny to really funny and as the three of them get to know each other better, Graeme and Clive soon realize that Paul is just a everyday guy like them (well except for the whole alien thing). They also meet Bible-thumper Ruth (Kristen Wiig) whom they accidentally kidnap, causing her shotgun-toting father to chase after them. Of course there are government agents also looking for them and the movie even throws in a few high speed chases. To round out the road trip there’s even a fight at a biker bar (Star Wars fans will love the band playing inside). Will they achieve their goal and send Paul home? Will there be probing? Klaatu barada nikto?

The special effects that went into creating Paul and his realistic interactions with the human cast were amazing, however the humorous soul that Seth Rogen breathed into Paul made the character truly out of this world. Not since Mork and Gordon Shumway (ALF) has an alien made me laugh so hard. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were their usual extremely funny dynamic-duo selves. The movie is loaded with well-placed humorous references to sci-fi movies and shows, a well-balanced amount of action and great character interactions with an unbelievable supporting cast that includes Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch and Bill Hader just to name a few. This movie is not only one that I want to see again in the theatre but one that I also want to own.
  
It: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two (2019)
2019 | Horror, Thriller
Part of this post is sponsored by 4DX Cinemas. With poignancy and heart on its side, 2017’s IT managed to avoid its occasional flaws to become an unnerving addition to the horror genre. While the film could never be classed as outright terrifying, the character of Pennywise, portrayed exceptionally by Bill Skarsgard, is an unsettling antagonist and one of the best in film.

Two years later, the town of Derry is back on the big screen in Andy Muschietti’s epic conclusion. But at nearly 3 hours long, is IT: Chapter Two just a bloated mess, or does it float to new heights?

Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to terrorise the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise – who is now more powerful than ever.

The film follows many of the same tropes as its predecessor, with beautiful cinematography and excellent performances masking some shoddy CGI and an over-reliance on jump scares, and while it does lack the simplicity and tightly-wound script of its predecessor, IT: Chapter Two is even more unsettling.

For director Andy Muschietti, it’s clear that the training wheels are off. After being guided through the process by Warner Bros. first time around, the success of IT (it grossed over $700million worldwide) now means he’s been free to splash his creative vision all over the screen – and it shows. A deeply disconcerting opening involving two of Derry’s LGBT community and some town bigots lets the audience know early on that this is going to be even darker and much more graphic than its predecessor.

From a casting point of view, they couldn’t have done better. Each adult version of the Loser’s Club nicely embodies their child counterpart, even if we spend more time with some than others. James McAvoy is as reliable as ever and Jessica Chastain plays Beverly nicely but it’s in Bill Hader and James Ransome that we find the perfect embodiments of their juvenile characters.

Hader and Ransome share the same chemistry that made Eddie and Richie so watchable in the first instalment and there is even some well-judged poignancy to go with their playful teasing. The Chinese restaurant scene, a fan favourite from the book and the TV mini-series, is present and correct and remains a highlight over the course of the running time.

IT: Chapter Two is a confident finale to one of 2017’s best films; filled with exceptional performances

Praise must be given to the scriptwriters here as ensembles of this size can all too often get lost with little character development. Thankfully, each cast member feels fully fleshed out, meaning we care for them a lot more than your typical horror-movie character.

However, this is Bill Skarsgard’s film and Pennywise is as menacing as ever. Skarsgard turns up the ante here with his physical performance being absolutely incredible. This portrayal is Heath Ledger Joker levels of good. It would be a shame if he wasn’t recognised officially for the exceptional work he has done to bring this wretched character to life.

While much of the film sees the Loser’s Club separate from each other as they try to locate tokens from their pasts, this allows the production team to create some truly staggering set pieces – although it’s unfortunate that many of them have been spoilt in the trailers. The much-marketed house of mirrors scene is brief but leaves a lasting impression and there’s a sequence early on involving a small girl that was really troubling.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. While the pacing for such a long film is spot on, the appearances of our titular character are not. Despite being billed as appearing more often, the movie’s gargantuan length means that Pennywise doesn’t feel like he’s on screen for any longer than in the first instalment. With such a great character and performance, it would have been nice to see him a little more.

And while you’ll have noticed me using adjectives like ‘unsettling’ and ‘unnerving’, the film isn’t truly scary unless Pennywise in clown form is on the screen. That’s mainly down to some of the CGI used to create the monsters. As in its predecessor, IT: Chapter Two’s monsters feel too glossy, lacking in any true sense of realism.

Nevertheless, IT: Chapter Two is a confident finale to one of 2017’s best films; filled with exceptional performances and the wit and humour that made its predecessor such a hit. While not reaching quite the same dizzy heights as that film and relying even more on jump scares, as a pair, it’s hard to think of a horror series that has made its mark in the last decade quite as much as IT.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ IT: Chapter Two in 4DX
I was unsure how a horror film would translate to 4DX but the good news is that the experience became even more immersive, with sight, smell and feel all being utilised to great effect.

Soaring over Derry, the advanced seating that 4DX provides means that you feel like you’re flying over the town too. Of course, while this is a pleasant experience when the film is playing nicely, as soon as the horror hits, 4DX jolts you back to reality with some well-timed movement, strobe lighting and weather effects.

A nice touch in this film was the use of smell, something not utilised in Hobbs & Shaw. Every time Pennywise was about to appear on screen, a sweet aroma would fill the cinema, lulling you into a false sense of security. It was a nice effect that added to the drama of the film beautifully.

Naturally, being a horror film, rain was utilised a lot and having the spray nozzle behind your seat was great. Although you are able to turn it off if you so wish, having the weather effects left on meant that you became immersed in what was happening on screen.

This was my first experience of 4D cinema utilised in a horror film and the overall impact was one that added to the terror rather than detracted from it. I would highly recommend viewing IT: Chapter Two in 4DX, and you can book tickets at 19 Cineworld locations across the UK.
  
It: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two (2019)
2019 | Horror, Thriller
Characters – Bill was always considered the leader of the gang, he went onto write books and coming back he must face the fear about his brother’s death. Beverly has married an abusive rich man that she wants to escape from, which sees her return to Derry, where she could recapture her own love interest from childhood. Richie is a stand up comedian that is just how you would imagine him to grow up to be like, he gets plenty of laughs through the film. Mike never left Derry, he has been studying how to defeat Pennywise once and for all, he calls everybody back to the town. Ben was the fat kid, he transformed himself and became an architect with great success, he will see this return as a chance to tell Beverly how he feels. Eddie is reluctant to return though it does get him away from his wife, that is just like his mother, he will need to overcome the fears which have held him back before. Stanley is one of the group that doesn’t return, he has his reasons and it poses the reality of what will come with returning. Pennywise is the evil figure, who mostly looks like a clown, though he can become anything he wants to play into the fears. It is strange that we just don’t get that invested in the adult versions of the characters.

Performances – Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy are the two biggest names in the film, they are both fine, because nobody is a true main character, the two could do more and McAvoy is difficult to watch because his choice of accent reminds me about the 10-year-old he plays in Split. Bill Hader and James Ransone are the stars of the returning characters, they still have great chemistry. Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan are both solid enough, though the characters seem to have swapped around.

Story – The story is the second part of the massive book, it follows the adult versions of the losers club that must return to fight Pennywise once again. This is a very long story, it is just under 3 hours long, which does feel like it drags along at times, once problem comes with more flashbacks with hauntings, there is no peril here, because we know the adult versions live. One of the strengths in the film is the idea of being reunited after years away with friends, it does feel natural and just how you would imagine it being. One of the issues I found in the first film was that Ben was the one that spent time learning the history of the town, while Mike did barely anything, it confused me because I always remembered it being Mike that understood the history, here it is Mike and Ben doesn’t seem to care anymore, add in the weird love triangle and you will feel like we have more that didn’t need to be here too.

Horror – The horror side of the film follows the hauntings that both the kids and adults go through, it is more just separate characters getting haunting throughout. Nothing feels as scarier as the first one was.

Settings – The film takes us back to Derry, we do get flashbacks with other moments that make sense and return to the old places where the scares happen.

Special Effects – The effects are brilliant in places, though it does feel certain CGI moments just don’t work.


Scene of the Movie – Richie’s memory.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – James McAvoy’s accent.

Final Thoughts – This is a bogged down horror that just is way too long to get the best out of the scares, just like the mini series, it fizzles out.

Overall: Disappointing sequel.
  
Power Rangers (2017)
Power Rangers (2017)
2017 | Action, Sci-Fi
Contains spoilers, click to show
About 85% of this reboot of the popular 90s show Power Rangers is quite a broody and charming enough story about a group of five (mostly outcast) teenagers finding a bond and friendship after discovering that they've be given superpowers. This is spliced with the odd training montage of them all learning how to harness their new found powers.
It pretty straightforward, and thanks the main cast, it's fairly enjoyable.
Lead by Jason (Stranger Things' Dacre Montgomery), the five friends are probably the main positive about the film.

As the movie draws on, we are teased with just enough Power Rangers material to keep the intrigue afloat - the presence of Zordon (Bryan Cranston), Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), glimpses of the Zords and so on, but the narrative never strays too far from this core theme of strength through friendship.
That is until the final act of course...

I'll admit that I felt a swelling of excitement when the Power Rangers finally appeared in full armour, kicking the shit out of faceless CGI henchman, but it's at this point that director Dean Israelite goes FULL POWER RANGERS. We even get the classic theme tune as the Rangers charge towards Goldar (eye burning CGI, but kind of cool) and Rita in their Zords (also kind of cool) but here in lies the main problem with the film as a whole.
The nostalgia is laid on so thick that it feels like a completely different film. With the first 3/4 being somewhat grounded in realism (sort of), with serious themes and relatable human characters, the final act of flat out Power Rangers absurdity doesn't quite gel. I have no problem with either approach, but I feel like maybe the writers should have picked one and stuck with it.
The well developed teenagers that we've spent and hour and half with at this point are suddenly wise cracking and quipping like there's no tomorrow. The big climatic battle looks ok, but it has that really overplayed Kanye West song obnoxiously blasting throughout (which just gave me *shudder* Suicide Squad vibes), and after being built up to be a genuinely threatening villain, Rita is easily dispatched by a big CGI bitchslap into CGI space, by the big CGI hand of the big CGI Megazord (still kind of cool).
It's just a little meh.

I have fond memories of Power Rangers from my childhood, and I realise that this modern retelling is also aimed at a younger audience, and in that respect I'm sure it's very entertaining, and I give credit to the writers for touching upon more adult issues, but overall, I wish it had been better. Power Rangers is silly, but it does genuinely have scope to be an epic franchise.

Final note - the running Krispy Kreme joke got old very quickly 🖕
  
Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out (2015)
2015 | Animation, Comedy, Drama
A delightful treat
If there’s one thing Pixar knows how to do, it’s create memorable films. Long after you’ve walked out the cinema, the likes of Wall.E and Finding Nemo stay with you.

2015 marks the first time the studio will release two films in the same year, with The Good Dinosaur coming to cinemas in December and the subject of this review, Inside Out, in this year’s busy summer season.

But has this increased workload for Pixar’s animators resulted in a poorer quality movie?

Inside Out follows the story of young Riley, an eleven-year-old girl coming to terms with growing up in a new home away from her friends and the neighbourhood she knows and loves.

Deep inside her head, however, we find a whole host of colourful characters controlling Riley’s emotions. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust all play a part in keeping her level-headed. Unfortunately, after a near disaster it falls on upbeat Joy and ever-blue Sadness to bring Riley back to who she once was.

Inside Out continues Pixar’s trend of creating beautifully animated films that really strike a chord with audiences. The sheer amount of colour is absolutely breath-taking and children will find much to enjoy in both the central characters and the numerous environments inside Riley’s head, while adults will love the stunning recreation of San Francisco in all its bustling glory.

The cast, which includes voice work by Bill Hader (Monsters University), Kyle MacLachlan (Desperate Housewives) and Diane Lane (Man of Steel) all do sterling jobs in bringing their characters to life but it is in Phyllis Smith, who plays Sadness, that we find the best portrayal.

A relatively unknown actress with few film credits to her name, Smith is truly wonderful as the little blue lady who keeps a check on the more upsetting moments in Riley’s life.

Elsewhere, Pixar has once again created a story that really focuses on the themes of growth, family bonding and what it means to grow up in today’s society with numerous cultural references that children and adults alike will enjoy.

However, it’s important to note that Inside Out is one of the more emotional films Pixar has created. At numerous points throughout the movie there were a couple of children in the cinema wiping away the tears – though this shows how heavily invested in the characters they became.

Unfortunately, despite being 94 minutes in length, Inside Out does feel a little drawn out in places and lacks the deeper storytelling elements that has made some of the studios other films so charming. This isn’t to say it lacks charm, but it’s in slightly shorter supply here.

Overall, Pixar has added another cracking film to its ever-increasing roster. Whilst not hitting the heights of Wall.E or Toy Story, it makes for a memorable and sensible film for the whole family to enjoy.

It’s the perfect start to the summer holidays. Roll on The Good Dinosaur.

https://moviemetropolis.net/2015/07/26/a-delightful-treat-inside-out-review/