Lately I’ve been involved in a debate concerning animated films. Some people say that all animation is aimed specifically at children, and while that’s obviously ludicrous, the more intensified argument is whether or not the big budget ones like Disney’s Pixar movies are?
For me, it’s a no. You’d have to be a bit of a weird adult to go to see certain animated movies at the cinema – like the new Thomas the Tank Engine picture for example – but Pixar’s films have an appeal that spans all ages and demographics. They are deliberately aimed at everyone; if they weren’t, Disney wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as it is.
Mindful of this, I went along to their newest effort, Inside Out.
Movies – Inside Out Review: What’s This About?
It’s about Riley, an 11-year-old girl who is uprooted from her life in Minnesota to live in San Francisco, and the little people in her head (or her five emotions Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness) who struggle to navigate her through this trying time in her life.
Some might say this is Disney stealing the DC Thomson idea of The Numbskulls, and they’d have a point.
Movies – Inside Out Review: Who’s In It?
Pixar get it bang on with the casting of this one, with Joy played by the super bubbly Amy Poehler, while Sadness is expertly performed by The Office’s Phyllis Smith. Other voice actors involved include Richard Kind, Mindy Kaling and Kyle Maclachlan.
Movies – Inside Out Review: How Highly Is It Rated?
Massively. I haven’t read a bad word about Inside Out, and whether it’s imdb (8.6), Rotten Tomatoes (98%), Metacritic (94%) or the written press, this is being described as a masterpiece.
Movies – Inside Out Review: My Thoughts
It’s quite clear that Inside Out is has more than one layer to it.
If you were going to be critical about the general plot it’s that it has essentially the same one as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Up, Wall-E or just about any other Pixar or Disney movie. You know the one I’m talking about; characters are separated from something or someone and must get back to where they need to go. On the way, they bump into a variety of hazards and characters.
In this case it’s Joy and Sadness who are accidentally removed from HQ – Riley’s brain controls – and have to get back before something bad happens.
That’s the hook and that’s what the kids will follow.
But beyond that it’s a surprisingly deep movie that deals with – and does a decent job of explaining – complex issues like fading childhood memories, how our personalities are formed and the importance of varied emotion and how sadness isn’t the worst thing in the world.
There are even instances where specific characters and incidents will have different meanings to different age groups. As an example of this, the character of Bing Bong – Riley’s imaginary friend who has been wandering around her memories alone for the last few years – will come across as a loveable and funny character to kids, but to adults will seem like a sad reminder of a lost innocence. It’s all very well done.
And as you would expect, the way it’s done is designed to pull at the adult heart strings. Considering the amount of sobbing I heard during it and the dozens of people wiping away tears when the lights went up, I think it served its purpose.
As good as it is though, I don’t think I’d consider it quite the masterpiece the press are touting it as.
Because it did rely upon that same rather tired ‘Home Is Just Over That Mountain’ plot that Pixar use to fill up time in movies, it slowed down a bit too much in the middle, and for that it loses some points as far as I’m concerned.
But it is well worth seeing, and a reminder that these movies are not just for kids; there’s something there for all ages to enjoy.
But Wait, There’s More…
As with all Pixar movies, there’s an animated short before the main picture begins.
In the past these have been so good they have stolen the show, whether it was the one about the paper aeroplane or the old fashioned 2D/3D Mickey Mouse short.
With Inside Out, it’s a 5 minute long musical love story called Lava, about two volcanos who fall in love in a relationship that lasts for millions of years.
I thought it was fantastic, and managed to tell the standard romance story more effectively than most movies could hope to. Not only was it a lovely song, but it was presented in an animated style that really brought it to life. More than Inside Out, this tugged at my heart-strings.
Not for the first time, I thought the quality of the animated short exceeded the movie.
You should obviously see it yourself, but the song is available on YouTube.
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