Friday, 24 July 2015

Review: Inside Out

World of Blackout Film Review

Inside Out Poster

Inside Out (2D)
Cert: U / 102 mins / Dir. Ronnie Del Carmen & Pete Docter / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

So what happens, right, is that a big-name Pixar movie gets released in the US on, ooh say June the 19th, and is held back for the start of the UK school-holidays until, well about July the 24th or so. Not withstanding the awkward piracy-gap that this creates, the danger is that the audience who've already seen the film let their opinions slip to the ones who haven't, because the world's a pretty small place in the 21st century. This can be potentially damaging to a film and (piracy aside) is one of the reasons that studios generally push for global release dates where they can. Over the course of the last five weeks I hadn't heard a bad word about Inside Out, of course, but this had the opposite effect and had raised my expectations, if anything. And therein lies The Rub™.

The trailer for the movie that's been playing UK cinemas is pretty magnificent. Sharp, sassy, and geared every bit towards grown-up anxieties and foibles as much as those of the kids. A conversation most of us have had at one (or several) point(s) in our lives overlaid with a three-way director's commentary. And brightly-coloured shouty characters, to boot. Like The Numskulls with sarcasm*1. Ace.

And Inside Out is like that, and it is sharp, sassy and (most importantly) funny. But there's also a very subtle film about anxiety, self realisation and even depression and mental illness buried in there somewhere, and it's thoroughly drowned out by everything else that's squeezed into the hour and a half*2. Feeling alone and isolated when she moves from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents, the film follows 11yr old Riley as she struggles to adapt to a new school and the feelings for the friends she left behind, and the subliminal struggles she faces are enacted by the five facets of her personality, Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness and Disgust (it's probably worth noting that only one of these aspects could be considered inherently positive, but that really needs analysing in its own post/review).

The majority of the story takes place from Riley's point-of-view, and the Mom/Dad psyches we see in the trailer are largely used for just that one scene. In short, I expected more of the conversational interaction from the rest of the film, so I couldn't help feel a little underwhelmed (by a fantastically written, funny movie, I know). That said, since Riley's inherent traits are direct amalgams of her parents', it's probably just as well as the result could be potentially confusing. Plus, the film is almost bursting as it is, without adding more friction to the dynamic. As entertaining as it all is, the screenplay is a little too fast-paced to be as introspective as it wants, and often tries to spin too many plates at once. The sharp, quickfire script, visual gags and ever-driving plot feel like they're fighting for the audience's attention (because it should be possible to enjoy all three at once, rather than layering the content as if it's filtering out to three different age groups).

If the film was half an hour longer (a big ask in animation, I know), it'd be able to steady its own pace and be an even better movie.

So like, don't get me wrong, Inside Out is a lot of fun and I do recommend it, but I saw it a week ago at an exclusive preview-screening and was um-bongo'd from publishing a review until today, so these niggles have been playing on my mind a bit. It's still very good, though.

Hey, they can't all be Wreck-It Ralph.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
It's worth a watch, but you could probably wait until…

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
…it hits BluRay or DVD.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
There's some very accomplished voicework here, and no noticeable stunt-casting.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It just about does, but it's also trying a little too hard to cram it all in.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Didn't hear one.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
As well as featuring the voice of (cinematic) Yoda himself, Frank Oz, Inside Out also contains the dulcet tones of John Ratzenberger, perhaps best known of course for his role as Major Derlin in The Empire Strikes Back.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Yes, I know referencing The Numskulls is a lazy thing to do since every review of the film will be mentioning it, but the base-similarity is so close that it would be weird not to mention them. Although now I want to work in a reference to Num Skull, even though that would lose most of my readers completely. Yeah, welcome to my brain. Be thankful you don't live here.

*2 As is par for the course with Pixar, the run-time is extended beforehand by the seven-minute short 'Lava', which is every bit as charming as you'd expect. Unless you hate ukuleles, in which case you'll want to punch the nearest stranger.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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