Directed by Pete Docter (Up, Monsters Inc.), Inside Out follows the story of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, whose world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions – led by Joy (Amy Poehler) – try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness (Phyllis Smith) to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust.
Inside Out is just as clever and inventive as most Pixar productions. It has an intriguing and compelling premise and as you would expect, it’s gorgeously animated and visually stunning. Inside Out is a film that tries to go broader than most Pixar films with a far more emotionally complex story and I think it does very well in exploring human psyche on a fundamental level as well as dealing with the problems of coming-of-age and it’s fair to say the film has its fair share of poignant moments. The voice-acting is another bright spot in this movie and I think all the actors do a great job with their animated roles. Lewis Black as Anger steals the show and was the stand-out for me.
However, for the most part I was disappointed by Inside Out and I do think it ranks as one of Pixar’s weakest films. For one thing, this film lacks the layered-humor that Pixar films are known to have and that is another thing I expect from Pixar films, in general. I also feel that this film was aimed at adults more than kids because it has the tendency to be pretty depressing and when I go to see a Pixar film I want to laugh and be entertained. I think the film goes a little overboard with being emotional and there are times when it feels heavy-handed and the film simply lacks the entertainment value that almost all Pixar films possess. In many ways the film is somewhat reminiscent to Monsters Inc, only that film is far more simple, emotional and funny. While the actors did a great of voice-acting, I felt that with the exception of Lewis Black’s Anger, the characters were far too generic and not nearly as memorable as so many other Pixar characters.
I’m not sure if I have a heart of stone but I simply did not find Inside Out to be an engaging and entertaining experience, it is not in any way a bad film but for Pixar to make something that is anything less than great is sorely disappointing. There are moments when the film really hit you emotionally but there are also moments where it just feels overdone. I do give the film major props for being creative, original and visually sublime but I just didn’t connect with the film and for me the film lacked the memorable characters and humor that make Pixar movies so great.