Film: Inside Out

107279-fullInside Out is an American 3 – D Computer Animated Comedy – Drama Adventure film produced by the Pixar Animation Studio. It is directed by Pete Docter, the man responsible for many Pixar classics such as ‘Toy Story’, ‘Wall – E’, and of course ‘Up’.
Okay, maybe not after the first 20 minutes of ‘Up’. I virtually cannot remember anything after the fantastic first montage of the couple’s life.

But I am getting side – tracked.
Though, I feel that it is important to note that Pete Docter is one with a rather good track record. He was even the English Dub Director for Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. Now, however he takes his hand at a much more ambitious project.
Inside Out is set in the mind of a young girl named Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias), where five personified emotions—Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)—try to lead her through life as her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) move the family from Minnesota to San Francisco and she has to adjust to her new life. (I ripped this summary off from Wikipedia)

At the time this was being written, the film has great reviews online. A 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4/4 score from my favorite film review site, Roger
However, I am very much split in – between about this film though. I am entranced by just the concept of the film, the entire film is just essentially one big self – evaluation of a human being’s personality. But at the same time I feel that the story and execution just doesn’t do the brilliant concept enough credit. It’s just too simplistic and watered down to actually give me (a semi – adult male) anything to actually think about.
Yes, I do realize that the film was meant for children but I am not a child and I am incapable of thinking as a child anymore and I don’t think that any sane kid would be willing to sit down and write this piece without being distracted by a butterfly or something.

The plot of the film is awfully predictable. It gives us no surprises and the conclusion isn’t very mind – breaking for any person above the age of 13. However, to the film’s credit it is does those predictable scenes with great emotion while not crossing the line into sentimentality. The ’emotions’ Joy is actually a character with quite a bit of depth and seeing her come to terms with sadness and perhaps her dwindling importance to Riley, is very interesting.
But, the girl herself, Riley is more often than not a ‘puppet’ than an actual human being. When she feels down she walks down the stairs, then when Joy takes control of the control panel, she suddenly feels happy and decides to slide down the railings of the staircase. It’s ridiculous. Riley is a robot, there is not question about that.
The other characters while very enjoyable to watch are also quite dull and uninteresting. The imaginary friend Bing – Bong is probably the next character with some depth other than Joy and the rest of the emotions are virtually… emotions. Sadness is sad, Anger is always Angry. Disgust always is disgusted and Fear is fearful of things.

But now, sometimes the content of a film just doesn’t matter. Sometimes we just need a the film to look good. Well… Pixar isn’t exactly stepping up their game here in terms of cinematic beauty. Sure it looks good but I’ve seen other of Pixar’s animated work that are very similar in style and quality. It’s a good thing that they remain consistent but it is disappointing to see that despite all the years, they have yet to embark on anything new than their usual cartoon animation and art – style.
Still, it is very pretty to look at.

I actually really do like this film. It’s flawed in many ways but the concept, while done before has never been done in such a manner. The idea of core memories building personalities is just enough to keep me interested. However, the film just doesn’t do anything beyond that. When Riley has multi  – emotional core memories, the personalities remain the same. It’s just baffling and disappointing to see how such a great concept can be so watered down.

At the end of the day, I like the film. It’s quite funny at times, but the humor isn’t ground breaking. The emotional stuff is quite good and the concept is great. The film is a visualization of self – evaluation and it does it with some brilliance. But ultimately the fact that the film is ‘meant for kids’ makes it a disappointment. I hope that there is a sequel to this film, meant for the children who watched the first one. that way they can pull the old Harry Potter/ Toy Story thing where the film matures with the viewer.
That way, perhaps the ‘Inside Out’ film that actually respects the viewer’s intellect may eventually emerge.


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