The story begins with Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), girl who has a life that is full of fun and happiness. She has a great relationship with her Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Kyle MacLachlan), she has a lot of friends and she loves playing ice hockey.
But then her world is turned upside down when her father decides that they are all moving to San Francisco. The loss of her friends and familiar things suddenly sees the emotions that live in her head and control her – Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Carling), Joy (Amy Poelher) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) go haywire and lose control. Then things turn really bad when Joy and Sadness suddenly find themselves separated from the others and Riley starts to lose control.
There is no really easy way to review Inside Out because this is the kind of film that both impresses you and frustrates you at the same time. Some have been quick to jump on the Inside Out bandwagon and label it the ‘greatest Pixar movie of all time’, sorry but those descriptions are grossly over exaggerated because while Inside Out may be a good film it doesn’t quite find itself in the same realm as Monsters Inc. or the Toy Story franchise for a number of reasons.
On a quick viewing Inside Out is a spectacular movie. The artwork and animation is bright and lively, the same way that Wreck-It Ralph was, while the screenplay provides a story that is a brilliant way for adults to be able to show their children what depression and sadness is really like. At the same time it is also Inside Out’s screenplay that also sadly lets it down.
I’ll admit that the screenplay of Inside Out, which was put together by a team of writers who can list some of the greatest animated films of all time (Up, Cars etc) on their creative resumes, does work on many levels. The first thing that hits you is the outlandish humor, this is almost a hilariously funny one liner delivered every few moments and it is the type of humor that crosses the age barrier with ease. Then there is the emotional rollercoaster called a storyline. Yes, like most Pixar movies before it Inside Out is a film that will get to your emotions. There are moments, mainly involving the uniquely original character of Bing Bong (Richard Kind), that will have you laughing out loud and then there are moments where this film can and will actually reduce you to tears. You’ve have to be heartless not to become emotionally involved when it is obvious that Riley is sinking deeper and deeper into depression.
But it is this part of the storyline that starts to lead Inside Out into a world of confusion. Exactly what age group is Inside Out pitched at? All the advertising would suggest that this is a film aimed for younger kids starting their school holidays so the fact that the film suddenly does a U-turn and seems to suddenly become Sigmund Freud trying to explain adolescent depression can be a bit of a shock to the system. To be completely honest this ends up feeling like a film that is aimed more at adults and young teens then it does a film that will be keeping children entertained throughout it’s run time. That sadly is the biggest flaw of Inside Out.
The sad fact is that at the end of the day it could be Pixar’s advertising campaign that is mostly at fault. There is nothing wrong with an animated film that is aimed at younger teens or adults, a lot of Asian cinema has shown us over the years, but what the danger is here is that parents may take their kids to see Inside Out expecting a film that can educate their children on what emotion to use when and instead find themselves having to combat some curly questions about death in the car on the way home.
To sum up Inside Out is an unexpected film. As we have come to expect from director Pete Docter he has served up an animated film that really does have the potential to make its audience think, remember some of the subjects brought up in Up or Toy Story 3? The film does have a bit of a weak middle section story-wise but is let down even worse by the fact that it is being marketed as a film for young kids. Inside Out is a good animation but doesn’t quite reach Pixar’s highest level of excellence.
Director: Pete Docter
Starring: Amy Poelher, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
Running Time: 94 minutes
Release Date: 24th July 2015