Inside Out – Review


Inside Out marks the return of Pixar to our screens for the first time in a while with a brand new film. This is an original film written and directed once again by Pixar’s long time employee Peter Docter who previously directed Up and wrote several screenplays for other films, but this time he is joined by Ronaldo Del Carmen who mainly used to work in the arts department, but he does share a writing credit for this film and has some directing experience having directed two episodes of the Freakazoid cartoon, but this is his feature film directing debut. Pixar really needs to up their game. The last few films prior to this were: the abysmal Monsters University as well as the dreadful Planes movies, which I briefly commented on in my top ten worst films of 2014. Pixar are also in dire straits having pushed back The Good Dinosaur several times which is thankfully getting a release date in November 2015. How does Pixar’s first original film in a long time finally do, having being pushed back over here from its US release date to avoid competition from the ‘Minions’ (which by the way I did see and I found it pretty good, but I thought without its Despicable me cast the Minions brand of humour can get slightly tiresome, and most of the better jokes are in the trailer).

Inside Out’s plot is that Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) has five beings representing her emotions living in her brain! Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader), Anger voiced by (Lewis Black) and Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling). Everything is going well and Riley has a happy life, mainly because Joy is in control, up until their family move from Minnesota to San Francisco. This causes a ton of issues, not helped by the fact that when Sadness touches a few of the core memories they turn sad and Riley’s life is turning upside down. When Joy tries to fix the core memories they are sucked out of the control headquarters along with herself and Sadness and dropped in to long term memory. Now Riley can’t feel happiness or sadness and they must get back to headquarters in order to fix the situation and get Riley’s life back to normal.

First off, I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying it is to see an original idea from Pixar, and this is a very original idea. That’s what I would have said if I hadn’t watched the Nostalgia Critics episode earlier in the week that I saw this film. He reviewed the film Osmosis Jones, if you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a half live action half animation film about a white blood cell and a sugar pill played by Chris Rock and David Hyde Pierce living in the body of a guy played by Bill Murray and trying to stop an infection played by Laurence Fishburne from killing him. It’s a pretty enjoyable movie but the live action portions do take away from it a bit and it would have benefited if the entire film were in animation. But it was a pretty cool and clever film. His review did comment about a lot of similarities between the two films, mainly so that he could do a few sketches based on Inside Out and if you look at it, there are some similarities between the two films. However Inside Out is not a rip off of Osmosis Jones!! For starters, Osmosis Jones played a lot more with the idea of reimagining Biology, despite the fact this did result in quite a few cringe worthy puns, including a cameo by Kid Rock, re-named Kidney Rock. This film concentrates more on being an imaginative version of how the human brain and psychology work. The various emotions do get a control panel, which, again, the mayor in Osmosis Jones does have, but it’s slightly different, and depending on which emotion is used in the control panel affects how Riley will act. This is a really cool and clever idea and the fact that the other emotions can’t make Riley feel happy adds to the tension of the situation in hand. This does eventually lead to a build up, and there is a slightly thrilling climax and I use the word slight because there are a few issues with it, but I will get into that later. The way it plays around the plot is an excellent allegory for growing up and issues that kids go through at hard times and I think a lot of the older members of the audience will feel a slight sense of nostalgia from this film because it really invokes a lot of that. This film is emotional in a literal sense, there is a lot in there, however it doesn’t quite achieve the same levels of previous animated films that I have reviewed this year, like Song of the Sea or The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. But I wouldn’t lie if I said I was slightly touched by the climax by the ending of the film. The major downside of the plot is that is feels slightly forced. Things just seem to happen and they just seem to derail the plot a couple of times to stop this whole thing from moving on, literally in one case later on in the film. I would also say the climax itself feels rather forced because the film makers realise we need a climax, it does add a sense of need for the main characters to get back to the headquarters, but that doesn’t stop it feeling slightly forced. It’s hardly the most contrived writing I have seen all year, that is definitely not the case.

This film has some really interesting characters. Joy is arguably the main character, but I think the filmmakers have overestimated how much we will enjoy spending time with her. She does have a good character arc and Amy Poehler really brings something to this role, which redeems her over enthusiasm and her major faults early on in the film. Joy is a very flawed character and not entirely in a way that is beneficial to the plot and I think that the writers are going with the idea that we are going to gravitate towards Joy, whereas I found myself more gravitated towards Sadness. I also really liked, Fear, Anger and Disgust who are the characters who are mostly in control of headquarters throughout most of the film. Their personalities really rub off well, much like Joy and Sadness, but again Sadness was my favourite character throughout the entire film and I really felt she probably should have been the main character of this. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy those characters, I particularly liked Anger who has some good gags and gets most of the laughs from the film. The only character I found slightly annoying was Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong who really overstays his welcome in the film and who is basically a clone of Joy, thus rendering him kind of useless to the plot except to point out the Maguffins that will potentially solve the situation. I also like the character Riley. The writers made her a very normal, very relatable girl. I like the fact that the writers didn’t not make her either perfect or a girly girl which I feared they would, plus the writers didn’t make her portion of the story very boring, nor did they not give enough for the animators to do with her, she is well utilised. The film does have some good gags in it, but some of them are abandoned too quickly, particularly the gag involving Anger. Anger is reading a newspaper at the time and the front page is something to do with the situation going on at that point in the film (for example in big bold letters NO DESERT) and it was a very funny visual gag, but is as abandoned half way through this film, which was a shame because I was waiting to see where they were going with it. But maybe that’s to the films benefit considering that the gag might have overstayed its welcome. Likewise, if you were expecting from the first trailers of this film, that they would be going into several people’s minds and seeing all their emotional avatars, I’m sad to say that doesn’t really happen except for the middle portion of the film which you have seen the entirety of in the first trailer and some later portions in the closing credits, which I really recommend staying behind for because it is very funny. While we are on the subject of trailers, I can’t tell you how much of the film has actually been put in the trailer for this movie. This film is only 94 minutes long and I think the film would have benefited more if the trailer had shown less of the movie than that it did, there is one scene later on in the film where the characters have to sneak around in order to not wake up this big scary clown character and it would have been a potentially tense scene if the trailer hadn’t given away that the clown wakes up!! That is not a spoiler, that was in the trailer that was shown in my Ant Man review so anyone who clicked on that would have spotted it as well. I can’t say that I dislike the plot however, this was an actually a really cool and interesting plot, there is quite a bit for older members of the audience, and by that I don’t mean that there are a few risque jokes that were snook in past the bbfc censor for which I only counted two. It does, however mean, if you are dragged along to this with your kids you will be getting a decent plot and something you can get invested in, despite the fact that I was made to wait 30 minutes to see this movie with trailers adverts and a 5 minute animated short called Lava which plays with every screening. Seriously!! There ware way too many adverts and way too many trailers for this film. This film was 94 minutes and I was looking forward to a simple brisk in and out job, but the cinema padded out the running time with way too many adverts, seriously, I don’t care. Stop playing too many adverts!!

The plot is pretty cool and has some great moments in it, I just think the film was slightly off focus at times and I don’t think Joy is as likeable a character as the filmmakers think she is. She gets an excellent character arc that I enjoyed, as I previously mentioned. You could chop this up as a rip off of Osmosis Jones, but I think you will be doing the film a miss service because there is an incredible level of imagination here that has been sorely missed from Pixar for quite some time. The only time that it feels like they are ripping off Osmosis Jones is the fact that dreams in this world are treated like television programmes and movies, yes, I’m sorry, you can’t get around that one. It’s a really heartfelt plot and I think it’s actually one that will resolute well with all audiences.

Acting wise, there’s not really much to say about this one. Because the cast isn’t that large this time and most of the characters are taken up by additional voices, mainly because there isn’t an antagonist in this film, much to the film’s positives. You’ve got Amy Poehler as Joy who is really good especially in her first few scenes where she can really play the embodiment of happiness. Richard Kind plays an almost pointless character, but he is really good in his role and I would say I did enjoy hearing him. Bill Hader as Fear is very good and Mindy Kaling is excellent as Disgust. When I heard Lewis Black was playing Anger I said “yes, that is perfect casting”, and I am sort of right, he does bring a lot to this role and gets in some really funny lines, in fact he probably gets in the most funny lines. It is another case of another stand up comedian being kind of forced to tone down his usual material to be in a kids film, and anyone who has seen Lewis Black’s stand up will be aware of. He was very well cast as I predicted. This is a guy who ranted for a good couple of minutes about being flown to LA to audition for a part that was basically himself, and he didn’t get the part!!! Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan are pretty good as the parents, even though their parts are pretty short and they don’t tend to turn up that much in the film. The stand up performances for me are Kaitlyn Dias as Riley and Phyllis Smith as Sadness who are both excellent in their roles. I’m not the biggest Phyllis Smith fan in the world, but I absolutely loved her in this film and she played a character that I really endeared myself a lot more to than I thought I was going to and in the hands of any other actress may not have worked as well. This film avoids one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of family films do, it doesn’t fill itself with too many recognisable celebrity voices. This often will have the effect that you just hear the celebrity voice and imagine them in the recording booth, rather than seeing them as a character. This film doesn’t really do that, you see these people as characters and that’s mainly because most of the voices come from well polished voice actors. I did get a sense of that with Lewis Black but that’s purely because I am very used to his stand up and in later portions of the film I was able to separate the two out. Bottom line, really good cast and even the additional voices in the people I have missed were really good in their parts.

The animation is really where the next port of call goes in this review and it’s as expected pretty good. The CGI animation is very Pixar. You just look at this and you think that is something developed by the studio that gave us ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Up’, but I felt the animation was closer in to the sort of style than the incredibles was going for (which, by the way I am really excited that they are making a sequel to that). I also thought that the character design and the world design are really imaginative, as you would expect and it is the sort of environment that I really enjoyed. I wouldn’t say I wanted to live there like I did with Big Hero 6, but it really added to the breath of fresh air I was feeling having had to sit through the last few Pixar films which had no imagination to them whatsoever. I particularly liked the character designs of the main emotions, particularly, Joy looks very upbeat and glows most of the time, Sadness looks very out of place and slightly geeky, but in a good way, which really fits in with Riley’s character. Anger looks like the sort of dad you see ranting about something he has read in the newspapers, Disgust’s design of looking like a fashion diva I loved, and Fear, well I didn’t really get how this design represented Fear. The actions and movements of the character really got that down, but I thought that was were the design fell down for me. They also got the colour scheme pretty well, obviously Joy is yellow, Sadness is blue, Anger is red, Disgust is Green and Fear is purple for some reason! (could make him the new Axia spokeman on that baisis) That design really did not work as well as the animators thought it did. I would say, on a purely technical level, if I take those pointers out of the fact, I did enjoy the character design. It’s another case of where I would like to get the art book for this film to see the process the animators came up with. Once again the CGI animation really excelled and the character’s movement is really cool, plus the fact that there are all sorts of weird and wacky things going on. Also, some of the locations, like the Interest Islands are really cool ideas and I did like the whole memories being represented by Orbs, even though they look like something taken out of minority reports.

Because of the way my schedule worked, I went to a 12.30 screening which happened to be in 3D and my comments on that version of the film was that the 3D was pretty good in the first few portions of the movie, but it kind of fails in the latter portion. It does ok 3D especially considering that CGI animation works pretty well in the 3D format, as I pointed out in my ‘Big Hero 6’ review, however this is not as good 3D as in Big Hero 6. I recalled only two stand out scenes where the 3D really came into its own, particularly a scene where the characters go into Riley’s abstract thoughts where the film actually shifted from 2D into 3D and in fact with one point with much of the screen being taken up by 2D and one tiny portion of the screen being 3D, that is a really clever effect that I have never seen before and was probably the hi-light of seeing the 3D version of this and it was proper 3D, I actually took the glasses off and the film was completely in focus apart from that small section and it’s really clever and inventive, like most of this film. However there is not too much to stand out with the 3D, but it does the job well enough. So with this one, I would say you can take it or leave it, I would go by whichever screening best suits who you are going with and the time. I don’t think it will make too much difference whichever way you see it, except to your wallet. I don’t think you would feel too ripped off if you saw it in 3D though. If you have a large family, seek out the 2D version, there was a large family in front of me with 2 parents and 3 kids and I worked out when I got back, in order to see that screening it would have cost them £53.20 because I noticed that they did not have 3D glasses already and had to purchase them. The animation is pretty good, but it didn’t blow my mind like The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea did.

Does Inside Out have it’s faults? Yes it did. It’s not entirely well focused and I made a few arguments earlier on about the some of the gags not entirely working. The best gag being the joke about advert jingles that you can’t get out of your head, which I’m certain almost everyone watching will relate to. Inside Out is a very funny, charming movie. It does have a few issues around its plot and a couple of its characters, but I would argue it’s worth the price of admission. Pixar haven’t been this imaginative in a long time. Its a really cool world and I would definitely not call this an Osmosis Jones rip off!! It has too much of it’s own identity in order to do that. It’s really cute, really charming and it might actually get a bit of emotion out of you. This is also not one just for the kids. The adults will get something out of this. Special props to Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black and Kaitlyn Dias who are all particularly good in their roles. This won’t be for everyone and I imagine some people may struggle with this film, but I would say if you are willing to endure, it’s worth it.

So what were your thoughts on Inside Out? Did I get it completely right or have I been too positive or negative about this film, I personally think I was kind of in the middle with it. These reviews are just my initial thoughts and some of my opinions may alter over time, but I will really welcome your thoughts. Leave a comment please, or answer this weeks question, which is:

“What is your favourite Pixar Movie?”?

This is going to be interesting because I almost certainly will have seen all of these movies considering I have practically grown up with this studio.

Well it’s time to move on. We have had two reviews based on Marvel comics this year and it’s time to close out Marvel with the third and final release of a Marvel Comic film this year, “The Fantastic Four’. I am aiming to get this on line for 14 August.

Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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