Tuesday, 14 July 2015

'Inside Out' review

I review the most anticipated family movie of the year, coming out on the 24th July. Hit the jump for more...

Inside Out has been getting a lot of hype. I mean, first of all the reviews are glowing much like the main protagonists. And secondly, it's a Pixar film; one that's not Cars 2 or Planes. I have to admit to feeling rather disenfranchised by Pixar - Wall-E and Up both started out well then devolved into stupid trash. In fact, the only two Pixar films that I hold up as excellent are Monsters Inc. and Toy Story.

That is one high volcano...
The film starts with the traditional preceding short film, this time 'Lava'. And I tell you this: it's kinda weird. It's also kinda good... although I felt the constant song (the whole short film is sung) got a bit on my nerves and the idea was definitely thought up by some high intern. I don't know, I mean, it was interesting, but I did feel that I wanted the main feature to start (props for the good visuals and Pixar references though).

So what's the story of Inside Out? Well, we meet Riley (or rather, the voices in Riley's head). These consist of the emotions joy, sadness, disgust, fear, and anger. The basic plot-line involves Riley moving from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents - and the ensuing mental confusion. In the emotion visual representation, both Joy and Sadness are cast into the recesses of memory, and have to find themselves back. So which of these is the main storyline? Probably the one inside Riley's head. Of course, neither of these plots matter all that much, it's Pixar's messages that really count.

What do they want to tell us this time? Chiefly that we should accept sadness as a positive force to lead more enriched lives and thus unlock joy. And they do a good job of that. You could also say that they want to mediate on family, adolescent life, and provide a piece of mainstream cinema that anyone over the age of about 10 can relate to (of course it helps if you moved house). Unfortunately, there seem to be some strange stereotype issues. Sadness is short and fat, whilst joy is tall and thin. I may be reading a bit too much into it, but this seems a bit off. Also, there's an inaccuracy combined with stereotype in the revelation of other characters minds. In Riley's head, there's a wide range of personalities and genders, but when we view others, their heads are comprised of emotions of their gender alone (and often all of one emotion). This genuinely feels out of place for a progressive studio, especially when all woman emotions swoon at Spanish pilots, and all male emotions watch football. Hmn.

The real world...
The visuals are great, as you would expect. There's been a lot of time and effort put into creating the mental landscape in which the action takes place. Pete Docter and co have truly been busy visualizing how our minds work - from the 'memories' (glass balls) to the shaping of the subconscious. In the real world, the protagonists look authentic (as you'd expect for a 2016 Pixar film) and the conscious is wonderfully realized. One small issue I took to it was the actual 'emotion' characters, who look a little simple compared to the rest of the film (but I suppose they are based on simple designs). There is a real 'trippy' vibe to the whole affair. As an example, our characters find themselves turned into surrealist 2-D drawings and have to morph in order to escape through a door altered by a swift change in perspective (once it was far away, but now the world is 2D). It's quite amusing and cerebral, but not for the intended audience of children.

The music is typical Pixar fare - piano buildups and gentle serenades, and I couldn't fault the voice acting. The ending sequences also provide an emotional hit. I have never been one to become excessively emotional at the movies, but all around me I could hear wailing as people lost their inhibitions! All in all, it's funny, intelligent, and emotional. Yet it hits the Pixar wall, whereupon it's still a Pixar film and cannot transcend that. But yeah, it's true, this is the best Pixar film yet.

Inside out gets 4 stars!

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