It’s Not Common Cent$: A 30-Day Personal Finance Crash Course for College Students and Young Adults

As a millennial – and every generation after – it’s near impossible to have a straight talk about our finances. We didn’t get much training in it, and on top of that, we’ve been hit by one life-changing event after another. It feels like they’re happening every day. So what are we to do? Amin makes a good point from the jump: start today. Life goes on, bills need to be paid, people need shelter and food to eat. We weren’t born millionaires but we can make it so that we’re comfortable with what cash flow comes in, and what we can do with what we’re given.

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Aaminah Amin’s book – It’s Not Common Cent$: A 30-Day Personal Finance Crash Course for College Students and Young Adults. How to Manage Money, Save Money Fast, Pay off Debt and Invest in the Stock Market – leads you through a 30-day crash course in identifying the bugaboos of financial literacy, how it applies in modern situations, and how you can make it work for you. She doesn’t pull any punches by starting with a rundown on terminology, and then explains her own approach to tackling debt and establishing a budget, while cracking terrible jokes in between (we all have that friend who tells the corniest jokes, but we love them anyway, that’s Amin). The thing about knowing your (financial) enemy is that not every strategy is going to work well. You need to find a way to hold yourself accountable, and stick to it. And if it doesn’t, pivot into something new (Excel joke).

A lot of her advice is starting level tips but honestly? A lot of people need to have someone lay it out like this for them to understand. She does it in a way that doesn’t talk down to you either. Truthfully, if you’re a stickler about your budget and have been counting pennies forever (like me), some of the advice may not be particularly useful to you. There may be some gems for you to utilize because I did pick up a few pieces to incorporate into my approach.

Financial literacy is not a one and done situation. It’s a constantly fluid state of affairs. It’s one you should review daily, weekly, monthly; whatever works best for you. Amin gives you a good starting point to begin your journey. If you feel like financial literacy is impossible, Amin reminds you that it is not. Anyone can grow and learn, if they want to.

My rating for It’s Not Common Cent$:

Unbound Feet x A Larger Memory

Happy Lunar New Year one and all. May the Year of the Tiger bless you and your family this year. In celebration of this event, I’m sharing a review of the books Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco by Judy Yung and A Larger Memory: A History of Our Diversity with Voices by Ronald Takaki.

Photo by <a href="">Joshua Lee</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>
Photo by Joshua Lee on Unsplash

The thesis of Unbound Feet is that there is a storied and engaging history found through the lens of Chinese American women and their voices are as valid as any other. The thesis of A Larger Memory was that by telling of the history of America through testimonials of people from all races, we would hear voices of people unseen in mainstream history courses. Both books accomplished their goals by incorporating essays of those who lived during the period in history that each author was analyzing. Both books accomplish the presentation of the often overlooked social aspect of history.

Yung’s book focused on analyzing and engaging with the testimonials and the statistical data she collected. Her focus on the social history of Chinese American women was a much narrower lens than Takaki’s. She shined a light on their everyday lives within and outside the home. She didn’t skimp on the discussion about the laws on the books that affected them either, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Studying history through the lives of “normal” people is a critical aspect of social history as a topic. Yung’s focus was primarily on women born in China or those born here in America. The period of the book ranged from the nineteenth century when the Chinese first began to arrive in America until the end of World War II. It allows Yung to grab a wide brushstroke of women since people of Chinese descent did not try to come to the “Gold Mountain” until the political upheavals and quality of life dramatically changed in their homeland.

Nevertheless, there was a part of me that wished she could have continued past the World War II years and included voices from the present day. The blending of statistics from the time, alongside testimonials from the Survey of Race Relations (a primary source also present in Takaki’s book), made a compelling argument. It was fascinating to see the impact of each woman’s life as an American citizen, such as an arranged marriage, having their feet bound or unbound, or going to college.

Yung worked hard to present every side of an argument. For example, in the chapter First Steps, Yung offers the stories of Jade Snow Wong, Esther Wong, and Flora Belle Jan. Jade Snow was more open to being acculturated to America because she was born here. Esther was Jade Snow’s older half-sister, born in China, and acquiesced to their father’s rule easier than her sister. However, she fought for herself when it was necessary. Flora Belle ultimately rejected the gender roles placed on her and became a stereotypical “flapper” of the time. Accordingly, “Jade Snow Wong’s life was the dominant response of the second generation under study.” All three were middle-class, but all three had completely different reactions to living and working in Chinatown as second-generation Chinese American women in the 1920s.

Takaki’s approach to social history was much broader in scope. He presented the testimonials, oral histories, and other primary sources he found as pieces read in a historical context within their specific historical periods. He began with his own family in Hawaii. Then he segued into the founding of America as evidenced by the Puritans’ arrival here and then ended on the hot-button issue of affirmative action. He followed the American history timeline as generally taught in the classroom.

However, he allowed the reader to make their judgments about what they read. He also gives us a chance to change and perhaps add to what we already thought about whatever event he presented. Takaki does lead up to many of the testimonials by providing historical context. He does it as cleanly as Yung does, but he provides enough information to be put each essay into perspective before we read them individually. It allows the reader to read the book as a gateway to social history.

One excellent example of his providing historical context is his inclusion of letters written to the editor of the Jewish Daily Forward. A survivor wrote a letter about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. “When the fire broke out, the screaming, the yelling, the panic all bewildered me.” As students of history, we know what happened in that event and the aftermath. In addition, we have photographs and newspaper articles that have survived through the years as proof of the event. It turns out her fiancé rescued her, but when he returned to rescue more girls, he succumbed to the inferno. She had written to ask if she should move on, even though she was still in love with him. That is what makes social history such a powerful lens through which to study history: it puts the entire event into context. There are stories to be told that might get lost in the broader scrutiny of the experience.

After reading these books, a “Part Two” to Unbound Feet would be a fascinating addition. A sequel could continue the story of Chinese American women from World War II to the present day. Yung supplemented the book with a documentary of the same name that fleshed out the book better than words on a page. Upon searching for more information on Ronald Takaki’s work, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America was a significant source. However, it seems people were a little offended by the tone of the work. It would be interesting to compare A Different Mirror and A Larger Memory in the future.

My rating for Unbound Feet:

My rating for A Larger Memory:

Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale

I thought the book was well-written, but I wasn’t on board with the pace of how things happened. I get that this was a fictional telling of a real woman’s life, and it’s presented as so from the beginning. However, it was hard for me to keep the details straight. I couldn’t quite place where we were from paragraph to paragraph sometimes. A new character would be introduced, and the implication was that you should already know who this person is. The author did a lot of deep research into Dorothy Hale and the Café Society crowd she hung around with during the time period. I respect that. It shows. But there’s only so much material history about Dorothy to work with, so it felt like most of the book was finding ways to take what little concrete details exist and make the book out of that. Usually, I’d be on board for that type of narrative. However, it didn’t ring true for me.

“Or she might begin to worry that giving in to love would mean giving up a part of herself. She would meld and blend into the wife she was expected to be.”

That’s one part that didn’t sit right with me. She was a Catholic who saw the success of her parents’ marriage cut short by her mother’s illness and death. Yet she was a theater kid, born to be on stage. The dichotomy of seeing her trying to balance what she was taught and who she was meant to be would’ve been a far stronger storyline.

A lot of Dorothy the character’s interiority, such as

“Dorothy was something of a spoiled girl—this she had always admitted to herself—but the unseriousness with which she and they carried on suddenly seemed alarming. She felt that something within her was starting to change”

didn’t match what was happening in the book. Dorothy never gave off the vibe of being spoiled. Her lifestyle mirrored the Café Society crowd that she ran with. No one in that circle ever called themselves spoiled and mentally called themselves out on it. It was a natural element of being well-off.

Another passage stood out:

“I’ve been invited to manage the Demmette Galleries. Funny how it happened, really. I suggested they introduce French art to the American public, and they insisted I be the one to do so. I could make it the international headquarters of French art.” “Well,” he said with pause, “you can work on that, or you can work on this marriage.” The words came in a slow and measured tone, which always made her nervous, but less nervous than when he was silent.”

Not once in the previous pages did she come into contact with anyone from Demmette, via letter or phone call or visit. So we’re expected to believe this offer came out of nowhere? I would’ve liked to hear how the conversation came about. The push and pull of her first marriage’s failure would’ve been more realistic. I realize that this is probably the author’s hand trying to drop in details because that’s how it happened on the timeline.

On the other hand, there were a lot of beautiful-sounding lines offered up to summarize where the story was leading. For example,

“An air of malaise had spread through Café Society and quite acutely in her coterie, friends impatient to find their way to the lightness, their place in the sun. The Great Depression cast shadows on the city. The roar of the Twenties had quieted to a soulful cry of the blues.”

Another great line was,

“well, I don’t eat. Widowhood, girls.”

It was a good book, but I don’t think I’d ever revisit it.

My rating:


Be a J.E.D.I. Leader, Not a Boss: Leadership in the Era of Corporate Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Although I haven’t read Harris’ previous book, The Servant Leader’s Manifesto (affiliate link), I would consider Be a J.E.D.I. Leader, Not a Boss a spiritual sequel. His corporate background informs his argument about where corporate interests can grow in a way that serves their employees and their stakeholders, and ultimately, themselves. As they say, write what you know, and Harris knows his audience well without talking down to them or overtly shaming them for being cogs in the machine. It’s one thing to be a cog, but the time is now to dialogue how to move forward. You must put in the work if you want results. The tone felt like a discussion, but not a one-sided one as can often be found in these books. There has been a quiet trend to move away from the “boss” moniker, and Harris points out on page 33 in the Kindle edition that

“‘boss’ comes from the Dutch word ‘base,’ which means ‘master.’”

Book cover

It has racist connotations that I never thought to question before and evokes the childish retort of “let’s go, Brandon” as of late. I’m officially done using “boss” in any context, whether it’s meant to uplift women or in a corporate setting with the C-suite who could care less about me as an individual.

Overall, I enjoyed the book because it’s deeply rooted in identifying and encouraging people in power to unfurl the furiously capitalist processes that are currently in place and politely demand actionable solutions. The only way we can fix things as they are now is to acknowledge those

“toxic leadership practices created by top-down hierarchies must be replaced in favor of flatter, leaner, more agile, more collaborative, more supportive, and more holistic structures.”

It’s food for thought, and I hope that “boss” types will pick up this book and consider its approach. Harris does point out that while one person can make a change, it will take many people to make that change stick. He uses J.E.D.I. as a jumping-off point to provide the framework of the 6As of action and apply them to the 3Ps. No spoilers here; read the book to find out what they are!

My rating:

Zootopia (2016)

If you’re familiar with the species relations in Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (movie version) or even Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (affiliate link / book version), it brings up the question: who decides who is savage or not?

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything.

But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy.

Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.

summary of the movie

Zootopia is a great talking piece for families. The Black Lives Matter movement is not something that can be explained or digested easily by kids. This movie opens the door to have them ask questions and it’s up to their parents to open up a dialogue.

It was handled well, and not heavy-handed at all. It felt like a Disney movie without being too cheesy. I’m excited that they’re taking this stuff on.

Yeah, I know it’s not some sweeping condemnation of the racial issues in America, but at least they’re trying to get a dialogue going.

I like to believe that Disney is fully cognizant that they have a responsibility to tell the next generation that happily ever afters don’t necessarily exist.

Maybe there are just ever afters and all the baggage that comes with that. We’re allowed to learn the lesson from every story we experience because that story ended where it needed to and where we take it is part of our own personal interpretation and journey.

That is the mark of a good story for me.

My rating:

Fruitvale Station (2013)

I vividly remember watching the footage of Oscar Grant’s murder on New Year’s Day 2009. Phones were becoming smarter every day. Citizen journalism was on the rise, even if it didn’t have a name then. The videos disturbed me greatly. So I resisted watching this movie until I was better prepared to consume it.

Ryan Coogler – being a Bay Area native – perfectly captures Bay Area culture. Coogler showed the world what it was like growing up in the Bay in subtle ways, not even considering that they filmed on location when and where they could. The dialogue stood out to me in a finite sort of way; the diction was very Bay Area.

Oscar could’ve been a kid I went to school with, another lost soul trying to get straight for his little girl. In fact, he was three years younger than me. That hit close to home.

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Seeing him roll with everyone to the City was like watching them in real-time. I could see groups like that anywhere in the Bay, on any given day.

When the people come together on the BART to ring in the New Year, that’s what gave me the biggest smile. That’s what I loved most about living there. You come together when the music’s on, no matter what your path is.

Watching the movie was additionally bittersweet for me. When I attended orientation for my grad program, I lived with my extended family in Alameda temporarily. Thus, the closest BART station into the City was – you guessed it – Fruitvale Station.

It was surreal to be there, knowing this happened to him. My life changed for the better, and Oscar never got that chance, even though he was ready to make those moves. That was a sobering thought.

The acting was on point from the whole cast: Michael B. Jordan’s Oscar and Octavia Spencer’s Wanda were standouts, each was beautifully rendered.

Stories like this need to be told. I’m glad Coogler fought to tell Oscar’s story. We’re all the better for it.

Gifted (2017)

Gifted is a beautiful, heart-wrenching picture. Chris Evans headlines as Frank Adler, uncle to the precocious and uber-talented McKenna Grace’s Mary, the gifted of the title. Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Octavia Spencer round out the intimate cast.

I loved Evans and Grace’s chemistry. My favorite line of his is something along the lines of, “I had no business being her father, and I told myself every day that I would call Child Services, but then she’d do something that made me stop and say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.'”

I was on board with the story, but my heart broke at this moment. I’m not a parent. I’m the best damn auntie ever if I do say so myself. Ask any of my babies. I’ll be damned if I was left in charge of my niece or nephew by one of my siblings or my friends who are sisters to me anyways, and some outside power tried to take them away from me or put that shadow of a doubt in my head that us being apart would be better for all of us.

Family is family.

It doesn’t matter how you came together; you make it work, which Frank did in his way. I bought that. I honestly thought it was going to be a cheese-fest, but the story dug into my soul.

Grace held this picture. Like, I was in awe of how well she carried her lines. Anyone else would’ve garbled on them, but Grace pulled them off. But, of course, she had the best ones too. When I said precocious, I wasn’t joking. Mary crunches numbers like a computer, swings curses like a slingshot, and fights for the underdog without much deliberation.

Yet, underneath the bravado and misunderstood (or completely understood) genius, there is still a fragile little girl. I can’t wait to see where her career goes. I’m a fan. Her scenes with Octavia Spencer’s Roberta were a highlight for me, and they provided some much-needed relief from the dramatic scenes that make up much of the film.

As her uncle, Evans pulls off the worn, damaged single father vibe very well. His scenes with Lindsay Duncan were exquisite. I enjoy every one of her performances. I’m glad they didn’t oversaturate his relationship with Mary’s teacher Bonnie either, played by Jenny Slate. It could’ve been much worse because, in anyone else’s hands (acting or script-wise), Bonnie would’ve been the savior who would light a fire under him to make the right decisions, and blah blah blah.

Frank comes to his conclusions on what is right and what he should do. But, then, you can see how he lives with the consequences of all of them. I enjoyed that. He pulls back when Mary needs to shine and fills up the screen with his understated performance when needed. I’ve been following this kid since Not Another Teen Movie. There isn’t anything I’ve seen him in that hasn’t knocked my socks off. Gifted joins that list.

Gifted is a feel-good movie without being over the top cornball. It’s funny when it needs to be and dramatic in all the right places. The dialogue is the right amount of sass. If they toned down the mouth, I guarantee you that I would’ve walked out of the theater complaining about it in this review. Instead, the dialogue humanized them, which is hard to forget to do when you’re writing something that you want to pluck at a movie-going public’s heartstrings.

Tom Flynn wrote the screenplay, and it’s his second feature-length screenplay. He did a fantastic job with this one. People always overextend the credit to the directors (Marc Webb also did 500 Days of Summer), but if they didn’t have a script, if they didn’t have a writer to put words in the actors’ mouths, there would be no movie.

And that’s my plug for my fellow writers out there: tell a damn good story. Then, everything else will fall into place.

Dunkirk (2017)

My knee-jerk capsule review from Instagram remains the same: Dunkirk was a great picture. It may become the definitive movie version of the battle. I hope it does because the cast and crew put a lot of heart and soul into the movie. You can see it from the direction, the script, and the acting.

This side of Nolan was refreshing. I feel like his big blockbusters were the first rounds to the main event. Nolan said in the marketing junkets for this movie that this was his dream project for many years. But he felt he wasn’t professionally ready to. I’m glad he knew his limitations because a first-time director could’ve fucked it up.

Rather than focusing on people who were there, he took a safer route in storytelling by focusing on three interconnected threads based on land, sea, and air while using minimal dialogue.

Sometimes when you make a picture about a historical event that historians have picked apart, and the public knows so well, artistic license is a hard sell. You may want to oversell it with dialogue or cramming in romantic relationships, and Nolan doesn’t do that with this movie.

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His use of unknown actors was straight out of the silent film era, which he said influenced his approach to the film. For example, he gets mad close when the enemy is zooming towards them. So you feel claustrophobic alongside these baby-faced soldiers who can hear shit is about to go down, but they don’t know where it’s coming from too.

That was my favorite part. My father served in the Vietnam conflict and told me you could hear the missiles coming, but you never knew from where or where they were going to land. But you knew instinctively to take cover. I think Nolan nailed it, and hearing doom overhead was a masterful craft choice.

Speaking of sound, I feel like the soundtrack was off-putting. I can’t explain it even after reading the press published when I saw the movie and chewing on why it annoyed me for a few days. Usually, when a film relies on having no dialogue to create action for the atmosphere, you must fill in the blanks as a moviegoer.

Nolan didn’t give me that chance because he and Hans Zimmer used Nolan’s pocket watch to create tension. You’ll hear it and go, I’m supposed to be scared now, so I felt it took me out of the experience slightly. I don’t want someone holding my hand, commanding that I think a certain way. I want to come to that conclusion for myself.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

They’re young… they’re in love… and they kill people.

Bonnie and Clyde is a solid, character-driven film that holds up well after 50 years. They easily could’ve made a picture focusing solely on the action, but it was led by these larger-than-life characters. I felt Beatty and Dunaway had great chemistry.

There were a lot of women from that era (Shirley MacLaine, Jane Fonda, Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Leslie Caron, Carol Lynley, Sue Lyon, Cher, Natalie Wood) who probably would’ve interpreted Bonnie much differently from Dunaway. Beatty was a good choice and the reason why MacLaine missed out. Their supporting cast was perfect: built like a tank Gene Hackman, diminutive Michael J. Pollard, silly Gene Wilder (in his first movie), and shrill Estelle Parsons (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film).

I’m glad there was a balanced character study of Bonnie and Clyde. They could’ve slanted the movie one way or the other. But they showed each of their motivations through their dialogue together, as well as their attraction to the other equally. In fact, I feel like if this was handled by another director, they would’ve messed it up.

A concern I had before the screening was how they were going to handle the actual timeline. Their crime spree was about 2 years – give or take. Director Arthur Penn subtly plugged in references to years and locations throughout the film if you’re watching carefully. I mean, not when they’re talking about clearing the border to go to Oklahoma in the dialogue. You’ll be able to pick up on where you’re at even without the prior study of their story.

I’m also partial to the fact that Bonnie was a poet. Here’s the poem that Dunaway read in the film that was written by the real-life, Bonnie:

The Story of Bonnie and Clyde

You’ve read the story of Jesse James
Of how he lived and died;
If you’re still in need
Of something to read,
Here’s the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang,
I’m sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dying or dead.

There’s lots of untruths to these write-ups;
They’re not so ruthless as that;
Their nature is raw;
They hate all the law
The stool pigeons, spotters, and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers;
They say they are heartless and mean;
But I say this with pride,
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean.

But the laws fooled around,
Kept taking him down
And locking him up in a cell,
Till he said to me,
“I’ll never be free,
So I’ll meet a few of them in hell.”

The road was so dimly lighted;
There were no highway signs to guide;
But they made up their minds
If all roads were blind,
They wouldn’t give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer;
Sometimes you can hardly see;
But it’s fight, man to man,
And do all you can,
For they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered;
From weariness some people have died;
But take it all in all,
Our troubles are small
Till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas,
And they have no clue or guide;
If they can’t find a fiend,
They just wipe their slate clean
And hand it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There’s two crimes committed in America
Not accredited to the Barrow mob;
They had no hand
In the kidnap demand,
Nor the Kansas City depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
“I wish old Clyde would get jumped;
In these awful hard times
We’d make a few dimes
If five or six cops would get bumped.”

The police haven’t got the report yet,
But Clyde called me up today;
He said, “Don’t start any fights
We aren’t working nights
We’re joining the NRA.”

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
Is known as the Great Divide,
Where the women are kin,
And the men are men,
And they won’t “stool” on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They’re invited to fight
By a sub-gun’s rat-tat-tat.

They don’t think they’re too tough or desperate,
They know that the law always wins;
They’ve been shot at before,
But they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they’ll go down together;
And they’ll bury them side by side;
To few it’ll be grief
To the law a relief
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

Bonnie Parker

I was kind of annoyed by the jump cuts but IMDb says the film was influenced by French New Wave, so this gets a pass. I think smoother cuts would’ve been better though. I did enjoy the unusual balancing of the energy of “Keystone Kops-style slapstick films” that descended into “horrific and graphic violence.” For a film made in 1967, glorifying people on the losing side, this was a fresh take. It still works today. Bonnie and Clyde as a pair have transcended when they’re known for, and it seems silly looking back on them the way that we do, but they were real people.

They’re a bonded pair, which is part of their enduring mystique as the ideal “ride or die” couple in Americana. You can’t think of Clyde without Bonnie, or Bonnie without Clyde in the same breath. It also helped that they became famous during the Great Depression. Americans were searching for something, and not finding it. Then, here comes this photogenic, infamous couple, boosting cars, and robbing banks owned by the Man. They were doing what they needed to do to get by, since getting by wasn’t getting people anywhere.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Inside Out (2015)

As is typical with Disney releases, they screened Lava beforehand. It was adorable. James Ford Murphy – the director – was dropped in by Pete and Jonas for the tour, and he explained that the short was based on his love of Hawai’i. You could definitely tell he had a lot of love for it. Some might say he was in “lava” with it. That’ll make sense when you see it.

The thrust of this “fish out of water” story is Riley Anderson, a young 11-year-old hockey-playing girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco because of her father’s new job at a local startup called Brang. I, for one, sympathized with that journey so much. I did have a leg up on the emotional impact of moving having taken trips regularly over the years, but sometimes you can hype something up so much, and then you’re let down. Her first view of the house was how I feel when I drive around the city! And I go to school there, so that tells you how often I feel that hype.

The stars of the film are the emotions in Riley’s head: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black). They are in charge of maintaining the thoughts and memories which are stored in orbs over the course of her life in Headquarters, whose furnishings are very atomic chic. It was sort of like something out of Monsanto’s House of the Future at Tomorrowland in Disneyland.

I almost wish my emotions could be voiced by this cast in real life because they nailed it. What I like about the emotions is that they’re going on this journey with Riley. So the things that they’re experiencing in her head as they’re happening are all new to them. This was embodied at the very end when a certain button appears and Anger goes, “what’s this?” I paraphrased that. I’ll leave you to keep an eye out for that gag though.

They showed some trivia slides before the movie, and Pete put Riley’s hockey rink where the Walt Disney Family Museum is in real life. I thought that was cool. I love the museum.

What I enjoyed most was that they grounded the film in a lot of reality. There are islands in Riley’s head that systematically break down over the course of the film: Goofball Island, Family Island, Hockey Island, etc. I knew immediately what was happening. When you break something down, you have to build it back up again in a different way. That’s the closest thing to a spoiler you’re going to get out of me! The islands are based on Disneyland’s lands because Pete’s a Disney dork. I love that his passion allows him to make movies like that.

My favorite non-main character is Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong. His story arc was so emotional for me. I personally did not have an imaginary friend growing up, unless you count the girls from the Baby-Sitters’ Club. “Take her to the moon for me” will live on in my heart as one of the greatest final lines ever.

Overall, the movie was paced just right, and the peaks and valleys of the storyline were delivered perfectly. I haven’t read other reviews, so I hope the critics aren’t going to be mean. I enjoyed the movie immensely. It had the same piss and vinegar of every other Pixar hit without feeling like it was an echo of them. It will fit perfectly in the pantheon of Pixar. Of course, I’m completely biased but there hasn’t been one Pixar film that hasn’t hit all the right notes for me. Again, I really enjoyed Cars, but admittedly, not a huge fan of Cars 2. I can’t wait for it to hit Disney Movies Anywhere. Stay for the end credits. It’s hilarious and shows how these five emotions affect us individually.

As part of the Fathom Events special event premiere, Pete Docter (who also directed Monsters, Inc. and Up) and the producer Jonas Rivera brought us along on a tour of the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville. My favorite parts were seeing Peter Sohn (he did the voice for Emile in Ratatouille and was the inspiration for Russell in Up) and the crew viewing the dailies for The Good Dinosaur, and John Lasseter who was producing Toy Story 4. I’m a little iffy on 4, to be honest. I’m quite happy with the Toy Story shorts they’ve had; dropping in to see how Woody and the gang are with Bonnie. I don’t know where else they can take the story, but I trust Mr. Lasseter. I even like Cars.

After some technical difficulties, the theater got to view a tape-delayed interview with Amy and Pete. I thought they would ask more questions from Twitter but they didn’t have that much time. The one thing that was in my head during the run-up to the movie was how they decided on the 5 emotions, and luckily someone from Twitter asked. Pete and the crew did their homework. They met with doctors who had ideas for 200 emotions, 18 emotions, etc. They met a doctor who suggested that we have 6 emotions. The sixth one was Surprise but Pete and the crew decided to combine that with Fear.

But my favorite part of the interview was when Pete and Amy were discussing the writing process. Amy and Bill had a lot of input into the script during the production process, which was wonderful. I just finished my semester of Humor in Writing, so everything they were saying about the writing process spoke to me deeply. I found myself nodding my head, like “yes! I understand where you’re coming from!”