Inside Out, Pixar's adventure into the human mind. Is it a triumphant return to form for the studio or another missed opportunity?
Ever since Toy Story 3, Pixar movies have been in a slump with unnecessary sequels and movies that lack the sophistication viewers have come to expect. If you have read my reviews of 3D animated films, you might know that I have a very mixed opinion of the genre. I am tired of animated kid’s flicks that get by a pass on criticism because "it's a kid movie." All too many fall into the same clichés, especially in the Final Act, and even some of Pixar’s are overrated. However, for the first time in years, I can say Pixar has made a movie that is truly for all audiences with Inside Out.
Directed by: Pete Docter
Genre: Animation, Family, Comedy, Adventure
Release Date: June 19, 2015
Running Time: 94 minutes
MMPA rating: PG
The Good: Exceptional 1st Act, Not an entirely clichéd ending, Clever concepts and presentation of the mind, Colorful visuals, Amy Poehler is fun as the lead, Several hilarious scenes, Good message, Solid pace, A few surprisingly emotional moments, Actual consequences, Catchy main theme,
The Bad: Could have been funnier, Bing Bong is annoying at first, Drags in the middle act,
Plot: 8.4/10- Like many great animated films, the 1st Act is exceptional. The film introduces its many imaginative concepts to portray the inner workings of the mind, while making it simple enough for a child to understand. Many of best parts are how the writers come up with fun ways to show how the mind works. You could say that certain elements of the mind are over simplified since emotion does not always govern people's action, and you would not be wrong. Aside from that, the streamlined portrayal of the human conscious is one of the most original ideas I have seen in an animated film in a long time, even if it takes some cues from the old Cranium Command ride at Disney's Epcot.
Due to the unique nature of the plot, the constant introduction to various new concepts keeps the pacing steady. Towards the middle it does drag a little with the introduction of a certain character, who derails the pace for a time, but there is little more to say than that.
Thematically, the film conveys a nice message that is different from the norm. It is something that is important for kids, but will also resonate with adults as well, and it does not feel forced, which is a rarity for the medium.
Lastly, the finale manages to break from the terribly clichéd "Happy Ending" by having a few actual consequences. It could have been more impactful if they tried to end on a slightly less happy note, but it is certainly one of the better kid's movie endings of late.
Characterization: 7.5/10- The five emotions, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust are each distinct and memorable. The film does a surprisingly good job at making you dislike a certain character, yet making your opinion change by the end. Riley, the character whose mind these characters inhabit, is mostly there to drive the story forward, yet is also most important to conveying the main theme. Lastly, Bing Bong is the obligatory character that is present to appeal to little kids, and like all characters of his type, he is annoying, especially at first. He does not ruin the film, but he does detract much from a certain part that he is in, although he is significantly less annoying towards the end.
Acting: 8.2/10- Amy Poehler, as Joy, is the standout of the cast, and her peppy demeanor is perfect for the role. Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Phyllis Smith each fit the roles of the emotions excellent, and the rest of the cast each give a solid performance.
Animation: 8.3/10- Opting for a more simplistic, yet colorful, art style, Pixar, and director Pete Docter, deliver the level of animation quality that you expect from the studio. With that said, it rarely dazzles you with any unique artistic style or high detail, but it does everything that it tries to do well.
Soundtrack: 8.7/10- Of his work thus far this year, Michael Giacchino delivers his finest work yet with Inside Out's score. There are many catchy tunes, and the soundtrack is even worth listening to on its own.
Humor: 7.9/10- As funny as the 1st Act is, I feel as though the film misses some opportunities to maintain a contain level of laugh-out-loud moments. The best humor comes from the humorous ideas of how the mind works, and seeing the inside the other characters' minds. With that said, Inside Out is Pixar’s funniest movie in a while, considering that their latest features have lacked humor that the adult audience can laugh at.
Entertainment Value: 8.2/10- Aside from Bing Bon's introduction, Inside Out turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable time at the theater, and most definitely worth my time and money, which is hard to do for a "kid's movie."
Overall: 8.0/10- Inside Out is a welcome return to form for Pixar with one an original concept, solid humor, and a message that can resonate with audiences of all ages. In fact, Inside Out is one of the best American animated films in the last five years, albeit well below The Lego Movie.
Closing comments: Inside Out will almost certainly win the Best Animated Feature Oscar, even if When Marie was There is more deserving. However, for the time first time since Toy Story 3, it will almost deserve it.
Recommended for: Families, Pixar fans, Animation fans,
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