Film Review – Inside Out (2015)

Joy Inside Out Disney Pixar

Amy Poehler is Joy in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out

Inside Out

Directed by Pete Docter & Ronaldo De Carmen

Voice work by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind

Review by Jordan

Inside Out is a film about sadness. It’s about more than that; about a range of core emotions from joy through to anger, but ultimately it is a Disney Pixar animation about how important it is for children to be in touch with their emotions and to understand that feeling upset at times is important because it is then that we an accept the support needed to again discover happiness.

So, then, its about sadness; a subject that is all too real for most adults and that can certainly influence children’s lives also. If then, and understandably so, you immediately think that although some of the themes are heavy they’re essential in creating lovable characters who’s fates and continued journeys will live on in imaginations for years to come as is Pixar’s tradition, I’m afraid you may be disappointed. Inside Out thrives early on its creativity, and the introductions to Joy, Disgust, Fear, Anger and Sadness, but in terms of bouncing back from causing the school holiday audience I viewed it with to cry, it falls noticeably short from it’s tear-jerker peers in Up and Toy Story 3. The reason? It just isn’t funny enough, often enough.

Following the positive, upbeat Riley’s move with her family from their idyllic suburban life to a cramped townhouse in daunting San Fransisco, and the way she emotionally manages the drastic changes in scenery, friends and family time from the viewpoint of the voices in her head, Pete Docter and Ronaldo De Carmen’s film thrives on it’s levels of imagination and the cleverness needed to translate oft used terms such as “train of thought” and “core memories” to fully realized plot devices. Moments of interaction involving Fear especially are laugh-out-loud funny, because they mirror our thought processes in a way so obvious yet so hard to nail.

In between moments of laughter however, are long stretches through an unfamiliar plain of humorlessness, ending with the signing out of a character who’s lot reaches levels of tragedy not frequently seen in family entertainment. It’s good to be inventive, and its great to make us care, but it’s an enormously better feeling leaving a cinema with a Disney smile than it is remembering poor old Bing Bong and his candy tears.

Inside Out is a meticulously made and researched animation, with flawless voice work complimenting some ingeniously written situations. This high praise though comes while recognizing that in dealing with clinical issues, it lacks a beating heart, and while it is playing terrifically well with critics I don’t think they should be viewed as the intended audience.

3 useful imaginary boyfriends out of 5

25 responses to “Film Review – Inside Out (2015)

    • Funnily enough, I ended up writing that even though Inside Out is funny in places, it’s not a comedy. It actually deals with some pretty intense issues that many of us have to deal with as children who are growing into adults. The humour is there simply as a counterweight of all the issues that Riley is going through after her move to San Fran.

  1. Have you seen Bambi? Dumbo? Pinocchio? The great children’s films of the past had moments of humor but were certainly not comedies. It’s like you wanted it to be a different movie than it was. It was a movie about growing up and how one of the big lessons of that process is realizing that life is a mixture of happiness and sadness. And that to get the happiness as adults we usually have to go through some sadness. I was blown away by how rich a character like Joy was and how she grew from not wanting to admit anything but fun was ok for Riley to a spot of accepting the new complex person she’d become. The same is true for Riley’s parents who at the end see her as an emotional equal for the first time.
    Criticizing it because it’s not a comedy is strange to me. All animated films have to be comedies? I think just like kids have always appreciated the complex offerings of like I said a Bambi or a Dumbo they are enjoying this. At least all my nieces are.

    • It’s not so much that I wanted it to be constantly humorous, I watched Sponge out of Water a few days earlier and that scratched that itch! But I found there were lulls in the film that hampered my enjoyment even from an escapism point of view. Joys change in perspective I didn’t find that clever but rather essential if the film was the grow and find it’s feet.
      I understand the Bambi mention but think that we can’t keep comparing all modern animations that deal largely with loss to it: doing that only suggests that these recent efforts really aren’t achieving anything new.
      With all that said though… ha I’ll admit that I’m very outnumbered here and I’m really glad most people loved it!
      Thanks for your insightful comment! Jordan

      • Fair enough if you don’t want to compare to old school how about Land Before Time or Secret of Nimh. The great animated films of every era have always been actually pretty somber in tone but with comedic moments. If you found it slow that’s one thing but I just got the impression from the review your main problem was it didnt make you laugh. That’s what engendered my response. We all have those movies that everyone else loves but we dont get which is fine. I just think it’s important to not put a genre of films in a box like all animated films have to be funny. To me Inside Out was the flip side of Up. Up deals with an old man comimg to terms with his memories. Inside Out is a young girl starting to create them.
        Up is my favorite movie btw. 🙂
        I think people discount animation as “kids stuff” and it can be so much more. Pixar has done such a great job of asking questions even in their less successful outings IMO. People that dont take it seriously because its animated bum me out (not that you were I just got a little of those vibes). Animation isn’t just for kids. It’s for families.

      • Pretty much all the Studio Ghibli films deal with growing up and themes of loss so it’s not just the older classics. Last year’s Song of the Sea and Tale of Princess Kaguya (even Big Hero 6) were all films dealing with growing up, the loss of innocence and grief. So animation has certainly produced stirring works of art that live up to the greatness of the past. The only reason I mentioned those earlier one’s in my initial comments was they are universally regarded as masterpieces so they are easy to compare too. (Sorry but you kind of poked the bear with this one…)

  2. I took our kids to see it last week, choosing it over the Minions movie which while I love Minions really didn’t want to watch another one! I think a movie that makes a kid feel something is great, so many movies are just for a laugh, but have no point. My two older kids 10 & 12 said they both teared up but still thought the movie was great. I welled up a couple of times too. My youngest (4) probably would have preferred Minions, but he still sat through the whole thing. A couple more laughs wouldn’t have gone astray, but overall I thought it was great.

    • Well I haven’t seen Minions, but I too would’ve picked Inside Out instead! It seems like for that age group it’s working wonders – so I might just be a bit out of touch!

  3. How could you even dare suggest anything but a masterpiece!


    To be honest I mostly agree with you. Very clever and imaginative with a fairly original idea but not sure it was enjoyable enough to be a classic.

    Well worth watching, but once is prob enough. For those with kids I’d say under 7 would enjoy minions a lot more as the concepts are hard to grasp and as you said its not a straight up fun movie.

    Good on pixar for trying something different but I’d still take toy story any day.

    For those who think jordan is in the minority – read the user reviews on imdb.. plenty of 1 star reviews

  4. Hey Jordan! Great review as always! I’m really looking forward to this one, I haven’t had the chance to see it yet. It’s really nice to read a balanced review, because there was such a big fuss about it and my expectations got really high!! haha

    • Hey Maria! Perhaps mine were a bit high as well.. I just really wanted to like it more! I don’t think it’s one I’ll be revisiting in a hurry but hope you enjoy it!

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  7. I hesitated to see this one at the theater because of a review which came to some of the same conclusions you did. I will rent it or borrow it from my library because I’d really like to see it. Thanks for your honest critique. After browsing your site, I’m pleased to see that you review movies that were released not-so-recently. I agree with this practice for people who crawl the internet because you never know when you may be able to turn someone on to a real winner of a film. Also, thanks for stopping by my blog and liking a recent post reviewing “Zootopia.”

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