Released into theaters June, 2015 by Disney/Pixar, Inside Out has unsurprisingly become the animated blockbuster of this year. With amazing ratings among critics and fans, who praised it for its ingenuity and creativity, it will most likely remain the most talked about animated film of 2015. When the trailers came out, I was not too excited. Though I thought the scene in the heads of the mother, father and daughter at the dinner table was creative I still felt (too put it bluntly) MEH about its release. I did not actually intend to go and see it but that changed after I watched multiple reviews on the film and saw its insanely high ratings on IMDB. How could I not go see it after that? I thought, “Wow! Finally another great Pixar film! It might just blow me away!”.
Many will probably not agree with my review but to be fair I have thought LONG and HARD about how I will rate it. I put off my other writing and stopped my Art blogs to think about it properly. I will do my best, but if you do not like what I have to say. . . well there is nothing I can do about it.
The story begins at Riley’s birth where she feels her first genuine emotion: Joy. The world is small, the control panel simple just as a baby’s mind would be. Shortly after Joy comes to life, however, Sadness appears and turns the first happy moment into one with tears. Of course all the other emotions follow and evolve with Riley as she grows from an infant to an eleven year old girl. Throughout her life, she develops core memories which shape the different facets of her personality. Life was pretty wonderful until her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco for her father’s job. From that point on, Riley’s conflicting emotions coincide until Joy and Sadness get sucked through the memory tube with Riley’s core memories leaving Disgust, Fear and Anger to deal with the impending situation. Joy and Sadness must then make it back to headquarters to return her memories.
The premise is absolutely stunning. The idea of going through the intricate workings of the mind just blew me away once I sat down and watched it. Through the trailers I just figured that it would be a simple look into a girl’s emotions. Not only do we see how the emotions play off each other and react to different situations but also get simplified glimpses into memory storage, thought processes, the imagination, dreams, abstract thinking, and emotional growth.
I loved how the memories were stored. There were long tubes that connected them from headquarters to long term storage. Each of these orbs were a different color, to represent the different emotion Riley experienced at that particular moment. The brain is such a complicated organ, one which mankind still does not fully understand. All of the memory storage looked liked the curvatures of the brain. Truly, this is a original film, at least in its conception. (Pixar seems to be really good at that. Ahem. . . )
PLOT EXECUTION: 3.5/5
(Goodness. . . I feel bad about this. ) Though the idea for this film is great, I do not think Pixar delivered it well. Pete Doctor is such a wonderful director, having given us movies like Monsters, Inc. (2001) and (one of my personal favorites) Up (2009), but this idea was just too big to fit into an hour and forty minute film. They could have spent four to six hours delving deep into the human psyche and still come up short. They took insanely complex ideas about the human mind but failed to deliver it in a way that was truly coherent, especially for children.
I do not think that it fit well with kids or adults. The concepts were too big for children to really understand. As I sat in the theater when the movie started, kids squirmed and talked loudly about what was going on enthusiastically. BUT the farther into the story we went they started to ask confused questions. There were not enough jokes to catch their attention nor do I think the characters engaged them enough. As for adults, though they can understand the intricate ideas better, the characters, scenery and delivery of the ideas were presented awkwardly between too complicated and childish.
The ending also confused me. When Riley finally gave in to her sadness and embraced her parents the story just abruptly moves on. Yes, I cried when Sadness finally took control and allowed Riley to heal but the scene was over quickly and went. . . I do not know where. They did not explain if Riley was able to move on, how she learned to cope with her situation or how she developed those new personality facets.
Also, why did they just forget about Bing-Bong? I thought that he would evolve into another important part of her mind or come back to life through different memories. He just fades away. THAT BOTHERED ME. I do not think that those childhood memories just disappear. Rather, they become part of our deeper self, the foundation so to speak of who we are. The scene where he sacrificed himself so Joy could make it back to the surface was beautiful, but I did not think he would leave forever.
Do not get me wrong, I liked many different scenes, especially the ending where they go into many different minds. (My favorites are the teenage boy and teacher. . . cough I am a teacher so I UNDERSTAND her pain!!!!) But, overall the story’s execution did not hit home for me.
I felt no deep attachment or connection to any of the characters. That is hard to do in a movie for me. Usually I can find one or two that I am really fond of, but they just did not work for me. The emotions stayed particularly one-sided naturally because they represented specific. . . well, emotions. I think Joy represented Riley the most so she went through more changes and could feel different things.
I liked how the voice actors portrayed each emotion, especially Lewis Black as Anger. There really was no denying that each had their own defined personality. What I did not like was how they treated Sadness as an unneeded emotion and constantly pushed her aside. Perhaps this was because Riley did not want to acknowledge her own sadness. Still, it bothered me throughout the whole of the movie.
What of the others? Well, Bing-Bong was definitely interesting but he died before I could truly come to like him. Her parents seemed more like side characters and we never get to see what they are truly like as people. As for Riley, I looked at her more as a place then an individual. That seems sort of ironic right? Though we went through an immaculate journey through her head, her real personality never emerged for me. She remained the bearer of the emotions we came to know really well and not much else.
As always, the animation was top notch. The world in Riley’s head and real life San Francisco was instantly distinguishable and fun to watch. I noticed that when the focus switched from inside her head to the outside world it changed from a land of color and rounded shapes to a more believable setting with earthier tones and designs.
Real people also had toned down colors and designs whereas, the emotions and characters in Riley’s head had shapes that matched their initial roles: Joy looked like a star, Sadness a teardrop, Disgust a head of broccoli, anger a red brick, fear a raw nerve etc. Bing-Bing also looked very nice, kind of like a heffalump from The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The only thing that really urked me was how the different parts of Riley’s mind did not flow together well. Overall, they were not magical. Otherwise, the animation was fantastic.
This was a shocking surprise. I LOVE Michael Giacchino‘s music. He is known for writing soundtracks for many different movies including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Star Trek Into Darkness and of course Up. He actually won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for Up in 2010 and MANY, MANY other awards from the Grammys, Golden Globes and the BAFTA throughout the years. So, yes, I am really surprised I did not like this soundtrack. To put it bluntly, when I thought about yesterday, I did not remember any of the songs. None. I asked my mother about it later and she realized that she did not know any of them either. I think this is because none of them are really engaging. Also, there is some modern Jazz thrown in several places. UGH. . . I hate modern Jazz. Is it poorly written? Oh no. Not at all. It just is not anything special.
PERSONAL ENJOYMENT: 3/5
I do not know what I really expected from this movie. At first, I did not care either way. But then, after all the amazing reviews came out I thought maybe, just maybe it would be like the previous Pixar classics. I wanted to like it. I truly did. But I just do not like it like many of the others. It was definately better than Cars, Cars 2, and Monsters University but it does not have the magic and wonder of the Pixar classics. I am no psychology major. I will not even pretend to comprehend how well they presented the mind as we know it. All I have to go on is the overall feeling I had when watching it. It made me confused, apprehensive and even a little bored at times. After watching it, I did not even know how to sort out all the negative emotions boiling inside me. This was not because the movie moved me. I did not know how to feel about it. There was a war going on in my head! (Ironic, is it not?) No movie should make me feel so uncomfortable. I whole-heartedly recommend it to all viewers. I hope you feel better about it than I did.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.8/5
(Without my personal enjoyment 4/5)
Fear: What was that? Was it a bear?
Disgust: There are no bears in San Francisco.
Anger: I saw a really hairy guy, he looked like a bear.
Sadness: Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.