How does the burden of expectations effect one's enjoyment of a film? Is it possible to look past a movies failure to reach the lofty expectations thrust upon it and still be a good movie or does that failure result in an altogether negative experience?
These are the questions that need answered to review Inside Out.
First, it is understandable why the critics love this movie, it really is full of heart and explores our emotional makeup more than any other movie of this or most genres. While the idea of exploring the characters that make up emotional thoughts and decisions has already been done in the raunchy Fox comedy of the 90s Hermans Head, Inside Out deals more with the effects our emotional memories have on our growth.
And now for the spoilers.
Inside Out revolves around 5 core emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear within a 12 year old girl named Riley. These emotions work in a mission control within Riley's brain and help her determine her attitude and drive how she feels about things around her. Each experience creates a memory defined by one of these emotions. Joy (Amy Poehler) is the captain of the ship, she's the first around from birth (our little bundle of joy) and has driven
the majority of these memories. The other emotions yield to her and despite their own nature they want Riley to be happy. Occasionally major life events develop "core memories" which are the driving force of Riley's personality. When the movie begins Riley has 5 core memories and they are all Joy's and create "Goofball Island Friendship Island Hockey Island Family Island and Honesty Island"
When Riley's family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco the story gets going. Of course a young girl moving across country is going to have some obstacles emotionally and our story is set in motion when Riley is introducing herself to her new class and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) touches one of Joy's memories turning it sad. This leads to Riley crying in class about moving and develops the very first sad Core Memory. Joy panics and attempts to dispose of the sad core memory and in doing so knocks her own joyous core memories out and next thing you know her personality islands no longer have power and Joy and Sadness get sucked out of Mission Control and out into Riley's long term memory. This immediately turns Riley into an emo shell and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) Fear (Bill Hader) and Anger (Lewis Black) to run the show. They each take turns trying to make Riley happy and doing what Joy would do before failing miserably as Riley gets more and more unhappy before eventually deciding it would be best to run away back to Minnesota.
The real story is Joy and Sadness and their return to Mission Control. They encounter of course meet new characters along the way and run into obstacles trying to catch the "Train of Thought" back to Mission Control. The most important of these is long lost imaginary friend Bing Bong who wanders Riley's long term memory and hoards all of his best moments in hopes of not being forgotten forever. The most entertaining characters are the pair whose jobs are to get rid of faded memories- names of the presidents?- keep Washington Lincoln and the fat one get rid of the rest. These two love an old crappy gum commercial jingle and for fun send it up to Mission Control which is why dumb things always get stuck in our heads. They send this up 4 or 5 times throughout the movie and it works every time.
Inside Out attempts to bring us both our laughs and our tears through Joy and Sadness' journey back to Mission Control, their interactions with the characters of Imagination-land and Joy's ultimate realization that Sadness is a vital part of Riley's emotional makeup and not just a screw up as the ultimate payoff for the film is the direction Pixar decided to go and is the direction of maximum emotional effect which is exactly why the critics love it.
I'm here to say they're all wrong. They could have gotten to the same end result without sending Joy and Sadness on their journey and left all 5 in Mission Control. The most entertaining parts of the movie were when all 5 of the emotions were together making decisions and driving Riley. By spending so much time inside Riley's head Riley and her life is an afterthought. 2nd best part was when they would give glimpses into the insides of other characters heads. Dad thinking about hockey during family dinner and panicking when he realizes mom wants him you talk. Mom thinking about the sexy latin helicopter pilot she could've had instead of Dad every time we interact with someone else it works. Unfortunately we get this only 2 or 3 times in the movie then again as the credits roll. The best of which is inside the cats mind.
By choosing the path of maximum of emotion the chose the minimum entertainment. I think they could have ended with the same emotional result in a much entertaining movie simply by spending more time in the world and leaving the 5 main characters together.
Between failing to reach the expectations of being A- best Pixar ever and B-simply just a Pixar movie. Inside Out is ultimately a disappointment. Off the top of my head I prefer all 3 Toy Storys, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Up, Wall-E and probably a few more if I looked them up.
Leave me in the Rotten Camp