Pixar warns you about the emotional gut punch up front this time.
I saw Inside Out the day it was released in Australia, I don’t mention this to gloat, but just to communicate that this review is being written in a little bit more retrospect than most other reviews I do. I think that time has let the magic fall from my eyes and a more critical perspective to take hold. Inside Out is a good film, it easily sits alongside the rest of the Pixar offerings as an emotionally engaging and whimsical film packed full of fun ideas that will stand out to both children and adults. However, I don’t particularly agree that the film is a masterpiece and see some holes that may hurt its rewatchability.
Inside Out deals with the emotional state of young Riley, a girl who is controlled (like we all are) by five distinct personified emotions housed in the brain. Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Joy monitor Riley as she grows, but as she starts a difficult chapter in her life, her emotions are sent on a roller coaster ride. Centering around the interaction of Joy and Sadness, Inside Out’s plot is set in motion as one of Riley’s core memories is corrupted after being touched by Sadness. This coincides with Riley being uprooted from her family home and moving to San Francisco. It is unclear if the emotional upheaval in her life affects her internal emotions or if her internal emotions are affecting her outward mood or maybe that it's a perfect unison of coincidence. As Riley starts to experience numbness and depression, Joy and Sadness must rush to get back in control after travelling through various theme park style areas of her mind populated with all sorts of puns.
There is great emotional lessons to be learnt during Inside Out whatever your age. The jokes are balanced at different age groups and there is enough to keep all audiences happy. The animation and acting are on point, the vocal talents enhance the characterisation while not distracting. Where the film falls down for me is the concept. While great for a short pre-roll film, i think the idea fails to successfully fill a feature films run time. As the film progresses there is more and more repetition of concept, a failure to develop many of the more interesting characters and the introduction of more and more puns as a deus ex machina. The emotional beats hit and i laughed and cried and experienced everything i was meant to, but as i walked out of the film i felt there was something missing, like i had watched two thirds of a classic animated movie.
Inside Out knew where it wanted to start and where it wanted to end, it had the characters and all the other ingredients for success but lacked the middle of a film required to really create brilliance. For me it will be a film that almost made it, i reserve the right to still have it appear in any end of years best of lists that i write, as im sure it will be for many others. However in short term retrospect Inside Out won’t hit the same heights as a Ratatouille, The Incredibles or Up in the near flawless Pixar filmography.