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.