Friday, November 27, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Inside Out (2015)

Thanksgiving break is always a good time to enjoy newer movies with the family! I had missed seeing Pixar's INSIDE OUT (2015) in a theater last summer, but I caught it tonight via Blu-ray.

This animated film about all the confused feelings inside a little girl's head left me with mixed emotions of my own. INSIDE OUT was pleasingly colorful and quite creative, but its 94 minutes went on too long and its story was too focused on the negative. While many critics couldn't shower enough superlatives on the film when it debuted, I'd personally class it as a mid-range Pixar movie. It's worth seeing yet overall my reaction leaned toward disappointment.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her parents (Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane) move from Minnesota to San Francisco. Riley understandably misses her home and friends, especially when the moving van with her things is delayed and the new place needs a lot of work.

Riley has much more trouble handling things when chaos suddenly breaks out among the five little emotions running things inside her head. When Joy (Amy Poehler) is accidentally locked out of the control room and sent far away, Riley's emotions sink ever lower and she contemplates running away from home. Joy and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) struggle to find a way back to the control room, which is being run in their absence by Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Fear (Bill Hader).

There are a lot of fun ideas threaded through the film, such as Joy and Sadness needing to ride the Train of Thought to get back home, to give just one example; the movie studio producing dreams as distorted versions of real life was also brilliant. I couldn't help wondering if the filmmakers were inspired by Frank Capra's HEMO THE MAGNIFICENT (1957); it seems rather likely, as Capra's illustration of how the circulatory system works, with a little man with a phone giving out orders, seems like a more primitive version of the concepts in INSIDE OUT.

The movie is initially quite enjoyable, as it unveils a fanciful version of how our brains work and memories are stored. The problem arises when Joy's attempts to get back home, and Riley's corresponding angst, run on far too long. The story is out of balance, with Sadness spending too long at the forefront of the story, to the extent I think it's debatable whether the movie would be appropriate for all children. The movie is rated PG for "thematic elements"; I suspect some children may find it more of a downer than a good time.

Another issue is that Sadness is a boring character. She has a couple nice moments of empathy where she succeeds in helping someone, but she speaks in a monotone, is depressed, and is generally not fun to watch. I suppose that's inherent in her character, but I wonder if there could have been a more interesting way to present Sadness. In fact, all of the "emotions" characters are a bit one note because they're just representing one type of feeling; even Joy's super-perkiness eventually becomes a bit grating, though she's never a dull character like Sadness.

My husband raised an interesting question also, feeling that there was an obvious missed opportunity by omitting a voice of morality alongside Disgust and Anger. I found that a thought-provoking idea.

The single funniest moment for me was in one of the "tags" during the end credits, showing the inside of a cat's brain; the cat walking over the control panel was hilarious. Though just a few seconds, it was such a dead-on depiction of cat behavior that it left me wanting Pixar to create an entire film about cats!

INSIDE OUT was directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen.


Blogger DKoren said...

I haven't seen this one yet, but my sister and her 8-year-old son caught this when it was in the theater, and neither liked it at all. I've kind of been waiting for anyone else I know to see it to hear what they thought, so yours is the first other review I've read. Sounds like one I won't be in any hurry to watch.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Deb! Very interested to hear your sister and nephew's reactions. Most people I know really liked the movie so it's interesting to hear I'm not the only one who wasn't as enthused about it. If you catch up with it at some point I'd be curious to hear your take.

Best wishes,

10:01 AM  

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