Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pixar's "Inside Out" Review

The following review is what I consider to be "spoiler free"; others may not. If you have not seen this movie and don't want to know anything about it come back after you've been to the theater. 

As part of my special Father's Day afternoon courtesy of my son and daughter-in-law, Michael & Heather, I went to see Pixar's first release in 2 years, "Inside Out". 

I was kind of "Meh"about this movie initally and had as much of an open mind about it as I could after seeing the trailer. But after all, it is a Pixar film and have enjoyed most of them over the last 20 years. ("Ratatouille", "Brave" and "Monster's University" being the only exceptions). Although I liked "Cars 2", I wasn't crazy about it. That means I haven't really been a fan of a Pixar movie since "Toy Story 3" in 2010. 

I was looking forward to one of my favorite comics, Lewis Black, doing the voice of one of the main characters. 

I like Black's stand up humor and "angry man" persona but have always been put off by his vulgarity. His being in "Inside Out" meant I'd most likely get his sharp humor but without the off color language. 

One of the things I look forward to with every Pixar release is the short attached to it. This time it was a cute story called "Lava". 

It's about a lonely volcano on a tropical island, who pines for love over several eons through music. I liked this short because the song was played on the ukulele. It also had a very genuine "legend of the earth"type feel to it as well. 

I couldn't help but think that the short was a bit of Disney subliminal advertising. After all, Disney's newest resort outside of their theme park areas is Aulani on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Perhaps some who are influenced by "Lava" will look to this resort for a romantic getaway. 

Most of "Inside Out" takes place in the mind Riley, an 11 year old girl who lives in Minnesota. She loves playing hockey and spending time with her parents.

Shortly after the story begins, Riley's life takes a turn that puts her in a place she never wanted to be. 

We are witnesses to her plight by way of what goes on inside her head. Her mind is set up like a NASA mission control center and is managed by characters representing several personality traits: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and, my favorite, Anger. 

The presentation of abstract things like: "core beliefs" and both long and short term memories is very imaginative. There are other elements of the mind and soul that are cleverly utilized as well but I'm going to let them be a surprise. 

As a delightful bonus, the audience gets a peek inside the minds of other characters as well as Riley. Each have the same staff of personified emotions but with some very entertaining varieties. Whoever was responsible for getting this aspect of the film on screen is a genius. The movie would not have been the same without it. 

Director Pete Docter managed to take the spirit of other Pixar and Disney animated films and create the brand new universe of the human mind. 

Throughout the movie I could see the influence of "Monsters Inc", "Wreck It Ralph" and the "Toy Story" films. 

Speaking of "Toy Story" there is a moment during the 3rd act that is very reminiscent of the furnace scene in Toy Story 3. But don't worry, it's no where near as emotional. 

It was an unexpected pleasure to hear Richard Kind's voice as one of the most important supporting characters. 

I have always found Kind's portrayal of "Molt" (Hopper's brother in "A Bug's Life") very funny and likable. He is very likable here too.  

There are some things about the movie I didn't like. It presents all memories as visual; some of which are from Riley's POV and others that are seen as if shot with a camera. I may be wrong but I don't think memories based on any of the other senses are even mentioned.

There are a few places in the 2nd act where the plot kind of drags. There are some scenes that could have been deleted to move the story along a bit as well. However a lot of those have a comedic element to them; most of which are meant to appeal to younger audience members.  

As far as my recommendation as to who should see this movie let me say this. I would recommend it for kids no younger than 7 or 8 years old. The concepts discussed, world that's explored, and plot twists could be respectively be too complicated, confusing, and upsetting to younger children. There's just not enough there to keep their attention for the entire film.  

Without giving away too much, I must warn you that there are some moments near the end of the 2nd act that a child (no matter what age) who has issues with clowns may find disturbing. I like clowns and even found this part of the movie a bit unnerving.   

"Inside Out" has what all good animated features have; a good story and humor that appeals to both kids and adults. Some of it is specifically aimed at older viewers. 

Paula laughed out loud more than I have heard her laugh at a movie in a long time. I found myself laughing right along with her and the rest of the crowded theater. 

"Inside Out" is another Pixar hit that's highly entertaining and imaginative. It is a good family outing for those with kids above the age I've already mentioned. It's also a great date movie. On the RH Factor scale of 1-10  I give it a 7.5 

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