REVIEW: Inside Out is More than a Feeling, More or Less.
For cinephiles, 2015 has been a treasure trove. Virtually every weekend has spoiled movie-goers with a new, flashy flick and Pixar’s latest, Inside Out gladly kept up with the fevered pace.
For this film to simply exist feels like a blessing. After all those Cars and Planes movies, Pixar is finally going back to what they do best – giving us an original, wacky concept that everyone can enjoy. While the film does feel like it carpet-bombs demographics in order to profit from the Father’s Day weekend, it’s no less genuine nor creative as a story.
The plot is simple enough – we follow an 11-year-old girl as her emotions wreak havoc during a move from Minnesota to San Francisco. But it’s this simplicity that allows for us to partake in a deeper, feeling tale.
Although the movie takes artistic licence with psychology, there are still some pretty powerful statements to be found in this movie about mental health. Whether or not the message was deliberate, we see a frank discussion of depression, anxiety and anti-social feelings play out before us. The team of emotions struggle with each other, but ultimately work together for the well-being of their host person. It would be easy to make Anger or Fear into the bad guys, but they too play a role in keeping people functional. Negative emotions are normal, necessary and not to be ashamed of. It’s an important thing for kids of all ages to remember.
As an adult watching this film, it becomes all too easy to overthink what you’re seeing. Are the emotions somehow sentient, or is their activity a metaphor for what the child is experiencing? What did our minds look like before a time of shiny, space-age technology? How do emotions understand abstract concepts that their own person does not? Is this supposed to be science fiction? Realist drama? Surrealism? In trying to discern whether or not I was meant to take the movie literally, I ended up feeling more anxious and confused than I probably should have. The film’s writer and director, Pete Docter – famed for Pixar’s Up, seamlessly blends imagination and logic to show us just how wonderful and terrifying the human mind can be.
The ‘inside’ story overall felt more compelling than the ‘outside’ one – the story of the happy-go-lucky, perfectly behaved child with doting parents felt a little bit too picturesque to be believable. The inner emotions felt more well-rounded and relatable than the whole person they represented. The wildly colourful, impeccably-cast emotions were a delight to watch through out their antics, but by contrast the ‘outside’ people read like a bit too much of a blank slate. The film’s conclusion also feels a bit too neatly packaged, even for a Disney/Pixar endeavour.
Inside Out has stunning, original ideas in both its story and visual design with a significant, relevant message to go with it. However, and ironically, I wasn’t left with as powerful an emotional reaction compared to other Pixar films. I chuckled, but didn’t laugh. I lamented, but didn’t cry. It may not be Pixar’s greatest, but considering that supporting films like this dissuade Hollywood from making something like another live-action/CG Alvin and the Chipmunks, it’s worth your time to see it.
Even though the parts of this movie feel greater than its sum, it holds up as a fun and clever story.