SNL always goes whole hog for the holidays, but this season in particular has a distinct “eat your vegetables before you eat dessert” quality to it. We have had to wade through a lot of bitter and not very fun hosts and sketches up to this point in the season, and now our patience is rewarded with the homecoming of two of SNL’s favorite daughters, and arguably the most creatively successful of their class, to cheer us up for the holidays.
Many successful comedians and comics are incubated in nurturing, yet deeply competitive environments. The various comedy clubs on the East and West coast of the US spawned many of the post-war titans, such as Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and George Carlin, bathing them in the blood of occasionally hostile, alcohol-fueled, combative audiences.
By transforming nebulous emotions into relatable characters, directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have created nothing short of a roadmap into the pre-pubescent mind. It’s not always a happy place, which is entirely the point. Often surreal and always delightful, ‘Inside Out’ is a rousing tribute to pure imagination.
The new animated film Free Birds lives in a strange purgatory of concurrently trying way too hard and not trying nearly hard enough. Though its high-concept hook—turkeys go back in time to right before the first Thanksgiving to devise a way for the settlers to not dine on their feathered brethren at the inaugural feast—is admittedly not something animation studios have tried before, the execution is tired, manic, exhausting, and nonsensical.