Inside Out (Movie Review)

“Wanna put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion…”

(This has nothing to do with anything, but another reason why this post is so late, besides Father’s Day, is because my piece of shit McAfee software keeps sending pop-ups that turn off my Google Chrome tabs. I got seven hundred and fifty words into the review on Sunday and Monday before McAfee struck. It’s partially my fault for not saving frequently, I suppose, but still, fuck McAfee.) 

I got out of my French diploma at ten-thirty on Friday. I’m not usually one to compliment Edmonton weather, but late Friday morning was absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful mid-20’s temperature (That’s Celsius for those of you unlucky enough to live in a Fahrenheit realm, or whatever) and the slightest of cool breezes.

Before I gained a barely steady cash flow, I might’ve sought out my friends, or gone home to play catch with my brother. Now? I went on my own to an air-conditioned movie theatre, where I watched a movie aimed at children, where I was the only person in the theatre who was neither a six year old, nor a parent of a six year old.

Needless to say, the minutes leading up to the movie starting were not the most comfortable for me.

 Inside Out

Directed by: Pete Docter

Produced by: Jonas Rivera

Screenplay by: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley

Story by: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Drama

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Kaitlyn Dias

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Plot: Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias) is more or less your typical eleven-year old Minnesotan girl. She loves her family, friends, the great sport of hockey and couldn’t be much happier with her lot in life…. That is, until her dad’s job forces the family to move to the relatively hockey-unfriendly (Unless we’re counting San Jose) city of San Francisco, throwing the cartoon emotions inside her head into disarray.

See, when that happens to a Pixar character, it’s “kid’s movie material.” When it happens to me, it’s “A violent schizophrenic episode.”

Oh, right, the cartoon emotions. Almost forgot about that tiny detail that’s also the premise of the entire movie.

Any smug hipster scrambling to proclaim that this is a rip off of fucking Herman’s Head should probably go ahead and blow their brains out right about now.

The five emotions that guide Riley through her tumultuous life are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader) and, when shenanigans ensue because of the move to San Francisco, the emotions have to work together to get Riley through this ordeal emotionally and physically unscathed.

God, this movie is fucking awesome.

I’m not going to surprise anybody when I say that I love Pixar. At this point, they’ve influenced pop culture to almost, if not the same, extent as their parent company, Disney.

That being said, I’m also not going to pretend that they’ve had a perfect go of it. In fact, since Toy Story 3, Pixar has released, at best, Brave, a movie directed by two people with different visions (And boy does it show!!!) and at worst, Cars 2 or Monsters University (Unbefitting of their predecessors. Well, actually, Cars kinda blows, but Monsters Inc. holds up beautifully).

So, I don’t know if I can really be blamed for not being all that excited about Inside Out when the movie was announced. Sure, it was an interesting concept, and the fact that Pete Docter was director, and the concept was intriguing, but… I dunno, the character designs seemed kind of lazy to me, and I thought that child psychology might be a bit of a lofty aspiration, even for a generally smart studio like Pixar. Sure, I get that they’ve done very smart movies before, but… I dunno, as deep as they’ve gone in Up, for instance, I don’t know if you could really call it as profound as, say, the psychology of a prepubescent child.

…I stand corrected.

And then they announced the voice cast. Holy crap, was I ever on board. The casting director for this movie deserves a lifetime supply of coke and hookers. Or, y’know, whatever it is that people besides myself consider to be sources of joy.

You could not ask for better personifications of joy, fear, sadness, anger and disgust than Poehler, Hader, Smith, Black and Kaling.

Huh. I just realized that every main cast member besides Poehler and Black appeared on The Office in some capacity. Cool.

I guess you could make the argument that Kaling, Smith and even Black are underused, but they don’t receive that much less time than Poehler and Smith, and they’re still terrific. So are Poehler and Smith, who do receive the most of the screen time. Off the top of my head, I would say that Smith as sadness is my favourite, although Lewis Black could pull ahead, the more I think about it.

How the hell did Disney ever green-light hiring Lewis Black?

Inside Out delivers on every level that you could ever want a great Pixar movie to deliver on, at least before Larry the Cable Guy voicing a tow truck was considered par for the course Pixar. The animation? Terrific. The score from Michael Giacchino? Terrific. The character design? Actually, despite my reservations, they work incredibly well during the movie, as, while the designs themselves may not be anything special, they’re animated (And voiced, and written) in such a way that gives them  way more personality than the designs let on. The comedy, drama and script in general? Well, it’s not laugh-a-minute, but it’s still a brilliant, touching script.

Also, Richard Kind’s character.

Homeless Snuffleupagus at a gay pride parade? I like to think so. 

Didn’t appear at all in the marketing (That I could tell, anyways), but contributes a lot to the story. He can come off as kind of annoying, but  I guarantee that he grows on you.

What I appreciate the most of this whole movie though, is the fact that, not only does it handle the deep elements inherent to a movie about goddamn child psychology, it also refuses to talk down to children. Too often, I think we’re seeing kids’ movies cater more and more to the demographic of “adults who just want something amusing to distract their kids for two hours while the parents pop vicodin in the bathroom.” Instead of making great, inventive fun movies that still manage to teach a great lesson and leave an impression on the audience, it’s becoming par for the course to shit out a movie about cartoon animals and bright colours, load it with adult jokes that wink so hard and often at the adult  audience that they would be breaking a blood vessel if they were human, and cap it off with some half-assed, generic lesson that we’ve heard a million times before. It won’t leave any worthwhile long-term impression on the audience, old or young, but the studios won’t give a shit, because people are still going to see movies and because the idiot kids don’t know any better!!!

OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE WILL ARNETT, HAVE SOME GODDAMN SELF-RESPECT!!!!

In that respect, Inside Out is the great redeemer for the recent slew of terrible family movies. Not only is this story all those positive qualities I mentioned above, but it’s maybe the smartest family movie ever made in a long time, and almost certainly one of the better depictions of the elements of childhood and growing up ever put to screen, capturing in ninety-four minutes what Boyhood couldn’t do in a million hours, or however long that fucking movie was. It’s joyous (Pun intended) but also bittersweet. It’s simple and carefree, but also confusing and difficult to get your head around. You can feel on top of the world one day and have it all crumble down in mere seconds. Multiple times. It’s good to see that Pixar not only rebounded from their rut, but rebounded with a movie that is going to mean so much to so many.

 …

That said, I don’t like the character design in The Good Dinosaur. Let’s see if Pixar makes me look like an ass again.

Overall: Brave is no longer the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 3. Thank Jeebus for that.

Rating: 9.5/10

Now, who’s excited for Ice Age 5???

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