|Some colorful emojis watch over the events of their child in Inside Out|
Growing up can be difficult. Some children may have it much harder than others but, it's never easy either way. In this country (U.S.), the forced feeling of unrealistic expectations can add to an already chaotic situation. When I was young, all I cared about was eating, playing with action figures (male versions of dolls), eating some more, and the occasional crush on the cutest girl (or what I thought was) in school. I was fortunate enough at the time, not to have been constantly bombarded with multitudes of commercials and tv programs that told me that I needed to eat this, buy this, do this or, be this, to achieve complete happiness. What I'm trying to say is, that it's easy to look at your kids who're immersed in all of the opportunities and conveniences that they take for granted and, think that they just have it better than we had it. To a point, that's true. But also realize that because of all the spoils of technology and simple luxuries, that our children are being pushed in so many more directions than we were at that age. Don't get me wrong, they're still a bunch of pampered brats that only separate their thumbs from their smartphones long enough to run to the nearest bottle of Purell, when even a single germ cell touches their bodies but, at least I understand what they're going through.
Pixar's newest film, Inside Out, also tries to understand the inner workings of a prepubescent child's mind. What I love about the people at Pixar, is that they try things that haven't really been done before and, throw in some human touch to make their films feel complete. They get to the core of everybody's inner child to connect us to their characters and worlds. Dreamworks Animation has tried to duplicate that formula as well yet, they usually come up short. This film is a clever idea that we haven't really seen before unless, you watched a certain comedy on Fox in the early 90's (Herman's Head). Regardless, Inside Out works a lot more on screen than doesn't. To be able to deal with the emotional complexities of an eleven year old girl's growing pains and also make it entertaining enough for kids, is an admirable task itself. I myself feel that this movie is at its strongest when it deals with the child (named Riley) and her problems, first hand. When it cuts to the five emojis in her head that run the show, I personally take it as a mixed bag. On the one hand, the emojis are cool, colorful, entertaining, and relevant to the story. On the other, they take away too much time from Riley's real world interactions and hurt my connection to her character. Even though the emojis ultimately represent pieces of her, they don't look and sound anything like her so, I'm seeing completely different characters from Riley herself. Understandably, the emojis are at the forefront to appeal to the children before anything else. I just wish that they could have given Riley an equal amount of time. Come to think of it, the way things are presented, it almost seems like the emojis' world is the real one and that Riley's world, is just a simulation.
Amy Poehler (Baby Mama), Phyllis Smith (The Office), Bill Hader (Superbad), Lewis Black (Accepted), and Mindy Kaling (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), do the voice work for the emojis. Poehler as Joy, is energetic and commanding. Smith as Sadness, comes off like Peppermint Patty trying to emulate Eeyore. Hader as Fear, does the paranoia thing well and is funny at times. Black as Anger, is by far my favorite character and the funniest. Kaling as Disgust, is snobbishly funny and has the best animation to her. Up close, the level of detail to each character is amazing. Every time that I see how beautiful some other studio's animation has gotten, I forget how much better Pixar is than all the rest. Then a film like this comes along, and reminds me. This may sound strange but, the action in this film feels more like child filler to me and, takes away from the impact of the film's emotional punch. When it comes to the difficulty of balancing everything to properly deliver the subject matter, I give credit where credit is due. But for me, I think Inside Out would work better if it was directed more at teens than pre-teens. I just realized something funny. In this film's chaos to cater to all ages, it truly tells the story as confusingly as through the eyes of a child trying to come to grips with growing older. Well done. Not perfect, but well done.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Inside Out
The Good- The memory dump scene; Emotionally powerful and appropriate. The emojis from other people's heads are hilarious! The short film, Lava, before this film's start; Beautiful and more romantically resonant in seven minutes than most full-length chick flicks will ever be.
The Bad- An overall sense of 'been there, done that' comes to mind during many of the action scenes.
The Ugly- No wonder Pixar set this film just before puberty. Riley's personality islands represented in the film might have been changed to some unsavory alternatives otherwise. Try explaining what Period Peninsula or Make out Mountain means to a five year old.
Final Thoughts on Inside Out
To be honest, Inside Out was not entirely my cup of tea. I know that most people will love this film yet, I didn't connect with it as well as I would've liked to. Nearly everyone over the age of seven should go see this. Under that age, and you'll be taking a risk with some subject matter that will probably fly over your kid's heads and have them bugging you every two minutes to go see the Dreamworks' film, Home, instead. It's understandable, those movies require much less thought to enjoy.
Rating- 6.5 out of 10
Rating- 6.5 out of 10
Running Time- 94 Minutes
Animation/Coming of Age/Adventure/Science Fiction
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