Pete Docter (“Toy Story”, “Monsters Inc.”, “Wall-E”, “Up”)
Amy Poehler (“Wet Hot American Summer”, “Baby Mama”)
Phyllis Smith (TV’s The Office)
Bill Hader (“Superbad”, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, “Her”)
Lewis Black (“The Aristocrats”)
Mindy Kahling (TV’s The Office and The Mindy Kaling Project)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Any Pixar release is a major movie event and “Inside Out” comes out of the gates with huge scores on Rotten Tomatoes (98%) and IMDB (currently at 8.7 and #45 in the Top 250 list). While I can’t argue it’s cleverness, inventiveness or technical prowess, “Inside Out” continues Pixar’s trend since it was acquired by Disney of featuring young girls as lead characters (see 2012′s “Brave”).* Disney has long pandered to young girls, who the company realizes are a gold mine because their spending habits are so predictably driven by hormones and peer pressure. Its success at doing so is unquestionable and parodied brilliantly in the 2009 South Park episode “The Ring”, which features a not-so-nice appearance by Mickey Mouse. To get a feel for the film’s merchandising potential, all you have to do is look at its poster (left). (Speaking of which, in looking at the poster, the female characters resemble human females, but the non-female characters bear no resemblance to human males.) To emphasize my point, writer and director Pete Doctor introduces “Inside Out” and explains his inspiration for making it was observing his daughter. Unfortunately, such story lines are less appealing to those of us that don’t connect with that mindset or have kids we need to find entertainment for. Or who recognize an entire demographic is being manipulated. When young girls go to the movies, they generally are accompanied by adults and often bring along their friends. That’s a lot of tickets, popcorn, candy and soda. Again, not a point lost on Disney.
In “Inside Out”, the emotions of tween Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) are presented as different characters in her brain. We see how they conflict and work together as Riley is uprooted from her home in the Midwest to San Francisco, triggering a story line with vague resemblances to “The Wizard of Oz.”
As with all Pixar movies, the voice talent is well cast and does a great job (Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith-Sadness, Bill Hader-Fear, Lewis Black-Anger, Mindy Kaling-Disgust). Riley s parents (right, with Riley) are voiced by Kyle McLachlin and Diane Lane, neither of whom sound distinctive enough to recognize (even though I like both actors). In a revealing interview, Ellen Degeneres ─ hilarious as Dory in Pixar’s 2001 “Finding Nemo” ─ said that, while she enjoyed not having to deal with hair and makeup in working on “Nemo”, the Pixar directors were task masters who had her do up to 65 takes of a line in order to get it right. She said it was the most grueling experience of her acting career. Somebody has to pay a price for all that hilarity.
Beyond the surface cuteness of the characters and to the film’s credit, the story is an effective psychology introduction for kids as it explains how core memories affect our behavior later in life. Visually, “Inside Out” is like staring into a big bag of animated Skittles for 94 minutes.
If you’re not averse to watching a creative, smartly written, technically impressive animated feature catering to the angst, self-esteem, and hormonal issues of young girls, you can’t do much better than “Inside Out.” Personally, a half-hour into the movie I couldn’t wait for it to end. In addition to the reason I mention in the first paragraph and as much as I like Amy Poehler, hearing her high-pitched voice so much over a sustained period was grating. I realize I’m in the minority on this one but someone had to speak for the rest of us, especially considering the film’s generous IMDB rating and ranking.
DPW July 13, 2015
Ronoldo Del Carmen gets co-writer (along with several others) and co-director credits but, with its “Monsters, Inc.” vibe, “Inside Out” is clearly a Pete Docter project. Considering the time lapse since “Monsters, Inc.”, that film was likely inspired by the boogeyman-in-the-closet fears of Docter’s daughter. I don’t think it’s out of the question to predict future Pixar plot lines that incorporate the pressure of college, the give-and-take of marriage or the bitterness of divorce. All they have to do is come up with cute and colorful characters to help flesh out the stories.