Inside Out (Pixar) Review
Full disclosure: I’m a Pixar fanboy. I’ve always been a huge fan of animation, and Pixar remains the studio to beat. Toy Story 1-3, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up are all modern animation classics. Ratatouille, The Incredibles, A Bug’s Life, and Monsters University fall short of classics, in my opinion, but they are still excellent movies and better than 90% of what’s being made. I’m even a fan of Cars and Brave. Cars 2 is really the only Pixar movie I haven’t fully enjoyed. All that being said, I am always excited when Pixar releases a new movie. I’m happy to report that Inside Out can be added to my “modern animation classics” list above. This movie is superb, and the studio’s best since Toy Story 3.
To be honest, I was a bit nervous going in. The trailer looked interesting, but it didn’t demand my attention the way the Mad Max trailer did. The characters looked very “cutesy” and I was afraid that this would be solely a kid’s outing. Joy looked like she had the potential to be overly saccharine. I was wrong on both counts; this movie is great for adults as well as children, and Joy is a fantastic protagonist.
I LOVED this movie. Every element was almost perfect. Without giving any plot spoilers, I’ll try to explain what exactly was so good about it.
- The animation. Even in their weaker outings, Pixar’s animation is always top notch. Here is no exception. I especially admired the ethereal quality given to all of Riley’s emotions. I was also blown away by the landscapes they were able to render, both in the real world and in the world inside your head.
- The story. The story is extremely inventive. Some have said it’s a rip-off of Herman’s Head, but I disagree. It’s a similar premise, but the execution is totally different and fleshed out in a more satisfying way. There are actually two stories here: the one taking place in the outside world regarding Riley’s move/growing up and the other inside of her head. Both are intriguing and I never bored of one or the other. The inside world lent itself to being more inventive, naturally. The way the filmmakers interpreted concept analysis stands out as the highlight for me. The dream studio was another fun bit, and poked fun at the moviemaking process itself.
- The humor. The film was very funny throughout, and there were several laugh-out-loud moments aimed at adults. Of course, I won’t spoil any of them here. Make sure you stay during the credits because one of the best jokes comes after the movie is over.
- The cast. The casting was perfect, and every actor gave a splendid peformance. Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith played off each other quite well as the leads (Joy and Sadness). Lewis Black was an inspired choice for Anger. I think my favorite, however, was Richard Kind as Bing Bong. He was silly and sad at the same time.
- The direction/pacing. As I mentioned in my story bullet point, the film blends the real world with inner emotions flawlessly. One needs the other for the story to work, and the team pulled it off.
To be honest, I can’t think of much wrong with this movie. I checked out some negative reviews (there aren’t many) to see what other critics had to say, and I mostly disagreed with their issues. I was able to think of two cons, though.
- The imagination world’s problem is solved in an action-packed nailbiter, while the “real world” problem was solved a bit too easily. Ultimately, it makes sense for the story, but I thought the tension could have been ratcheted up to match the stress of the inside world. I can’t really say much more without ruining the ending.
- The short film before Inside Out was just so-so. (It’s called Lava.) The animation was beautiful, but ultimately it was just “cute.” I liked it, but I didn’t love it.
Story: ★★★★½ of 5
Action: ★★★★½ of 5
Visuals: ★★★★★ of 5
Comedy: ★★★★ of 5
Overall: ★★★★½ of 5
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Pixar Movies Ranked
My ranking of the Pixar films (so far), from best to worst. This was a very difficult list to make, as Pixar doesn’t really have any bad films. This is just my opinion, and it could change the very next time I read it. Please share your own list in the comments.
- Toy Story 2
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story
- The Incredibles
- Inside Out
- Monsters, Inc.
- Toy Story 3
- Incredibles 2
- Monsters University
- Finding Dory
- A Bug’s Life
- Cars 3
- The Good Dinosaur
- Cars 2
(I haven’t seen it yet.)
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