Fast forward a few decades. Call it juvenile, but one of my dreams during the 20-something years I lived in New York was to have friends who'd throw me a birthday party. Nothing extravagant. I never had big birthday plans even though my friends assumed I would because I've worked on TV. When they had birthday parties, I showed up with a gift. I sang "Happy Birthday" along with the other festive guests and watched the friend being celebrated blow out the candles on the birthday cake. That's what I really wanted. A cake with candles. That's a sweet, illuminated symbol that says "You're special to us. We want you to make a wish and we want it to come true."
In months counting down to my 50th birthday, I casually mentioned to friends that I had no plans for my 50th. Some of them were tossed really swell parties for their 50th year. Well, I was certainly available to be taken out and sung to before I blew out the candles on a cake. One friend who lived a few blocks away called me on my birthday morning and asked if i had any plans. I didn't. She wanted to take me to dinner when she returned from a freelance job she had that afternoon in Connecticut. She was getting a ride with two other folks in Manhattan who booked the same job.
Unfortunately, returning from the job, their car broke down on a Connecticut highway. She called constantly to tell me they were still waiting for assistance. It was not her fault and she just wasn't able to get back to Manhattan to take me out. Around 9:00 that night, I took myself out to a favorite diner down the block. I told the manager it was my birthday, knowing that he'd probably give me a free dessert. He did. While I sat there, eating alone on my 50th birthday, I thought of those three mean kids in junior high and said to myself, "Well, I guess they won after all." See? That core memory came back as a comment on a new adult memory that hurt even more.
That's a painful birthday memory. It stings my heart. But what do I do with it? Whenever I have an actor audition for a serious scene, one with heartbreak, I pull that memory out and use it positively. Instead of letting it make me bitter, I use it to give truth to an audition so I'll get some work. When the audition is over, I kick it right to back of my mind.
That's what I mean about how feelings lean on each other and how they all serve a purpose if we handle them well. Is Inside Out an animated masterpiece like Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio? Is it as magical as The Wizard of Oz with young Judy Garland as a wistful Dorothy singing "Over the Rainbow"? This new feature is very fresh and very good but not quite a masterpiece in my book. There's so much pop psychology that it needed a splash or two more of whimsy for buoyancy.
Still, Inside Out is a winner. Pixar does calculated sentimentality with finesse. The little voices in my head recommend Inside Out for wonderful family entertainment.