Inside Out

Director: Pete Docter (2015)

Take an emotional trip through the mind of an ordinary girl in this worthy animation from Pixar.

The studio made the brilliant Toy Story trilogy but their most recent offering Monster’s University (2013) was mediocre at best.

Director Pete Docter was Oscar nominated for Up (2009) but hasn’t achieved the same heights here.

Inside Out is busy, colourful and undeniably ambitious and clever. The animation and design are excellent.

But it’s so well intentioned and keen to educate they forgot to make it particularly funny, engaging or exciting.

Eleven year old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) has moved with her parents (Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan) to San Francisco.

Riley’s emotions are represented by five brightly coloured characters: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust (Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling) .

They occupy her mind and dictate her moods and behaviour.

None of them are particularly likeable as they scream, shriek and squabble inside Riley’s brain – or the head-quarters as they call it.

Due to a secure and rural childhood, Joy is Riley’s dominant emotion. She’s bossy, hyperactive, manipulative, mendacious and far from endearing as the film imagines.

As Riley struggles with the trauma of a new city, house and school, Joy and Sadness are lost in the nether reaches of her brain.

The mismatched pair begin a perilous journey to HQ through the various areas of Riley’s subconsciousness and must learn to accept each other and learn it’s ok to be sad sometimes.

They encounter some mildly amusing creatures, of whom Bing Bong (Richard Kind) – Riley’s long forgotten imaginary friend – is the most fun.

Among the different environments are Imagination Land and Abstract Thought. There’s a very self-referential and Hollywood parody in the brain’s Dream Factory.

Meanwhile Fear, Anger and Disgust are left in charge – with predictably unhappy results.

There’s a definite sense of a concept tail wagging the dog of the story. Watching this movie is akin to being smacked around the head by a day glo psychology book. Or being given homework and told to have fun.

Plus for a lengthy part of the film Riley is a puppet, dangling at the command of her emotions. Similarly we can see the emotional strings the film uses to manipulate us.

And there are inconsistencies such as mum and dad’s emotions being appropriately gendered but Riley’s are male and female.

The wait for Pixar’s next feature length masterpiece continues.

The pre-feature short is a masterful musical called Lava, an intimate epic about singing volcanoes which overshadows the main event.

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